Trial begins Monday for ex-Bradenton man charged in fatal shooting
MANATEE -- A 23-year-old man charged in the fatal shooting of his roommate is scheduled to stand trial beginning Monday.
Kyle Guessford is charged with manslaughter with a firearm in the fatal shooting June 7, 2014, of his roommate Austin Brunson, 22, in the apartment they shared in the 2700 block of 50th Avenue West in Bradenton. If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison.
Initially, Brunson's death was considered an accident by investigators, but a State Attorney's Office review determined he was negligent when he pointed a loaded gun at Brunson and pulled the trigger.
"While there was no consciousness to do harm, the negligence was gross and flagrant," wrote Manatee County Sheriff's Office Dan Dickerman in the arrest report. "Kyle is the owner of the gun and has a duty to use due care when handling the firearm. Pointing the gun and pulling the trigger without first checking the chamber is a clear negligent act. This act did cause the death of Austin Brunson."
Guessford has been out on $25,000 bond while awaiting trial and living in North Carolina.
Jury selection will begin at 9 a.m. Monday, and could go into Tuesday, defense attorney Brett McIntosh said.
Testimony is scheduled to begin Wednesday with the trial expected to wrap by Friday.
"We're looking forward to presenting our case," McIntosh said.
Guessford and Brunson, along with other friends, went to a gun show in Tampa the day of the shooting, according to the arrest report. While at the show, Guessford bought accessories for his Glock .40-caliber handgun.
The group returned to the apartment and began to play video games. At some point, Guessford and Bruson each went to their bedroom.
Guessford then removed the magazine from his gun and, testing the flashlight he had just purchased, exited his bedroom.
"He advised that he never puts a round in the chamber so he did not clear the firearm," Dickerman wrote. "He notices that Austin was standing by the thermostat outside the bedroom. Kyle pulled the trigger of the gun thinking it was not loaded and the gun fired."
Guessford reportedly took his gun back to his room, grabbed his phone and called 911.
According to Dickerman's account of the recorded 911 call, Guessford said he accidently shot his friend and someone must have loaded the gun.
"Kyle is heard talking to himself saying: 'Who the (expletive) loaded the (expletive) gun?'" Dickerman wrote.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.