Official says shooter was negligent when he pointed loaded gun at victim
BRADENTON -- The case against a 22-year-old man charged in the fatal shooting of his roommate will not go to trial until late November.
Kyle Guessford is charged with manslaughter with a firearm in the fatal shooting of his roommate Austin Brunson on June 7, 2014, at the home the two shared. If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison.
Initially, investigators considered Brunson's death an accident, but charges were later filed by the State Attorney's Office after it determined he was negligent when he pointed a loaded gun at Brunson and pulled the trigger.
Guessford is out on $25,000 bond as he awaits trial.
On Friday afternoon, Circuit Judge Diana Moreland granted a defense request to delay the trial from late June. The trial now is tentatively set for Nov. 30 through Dec. 2, provided Moreland has no conflicts.
Defense attorney Brett McIntosh said the state had recently added two expert witnesses and he needed time to interview them and hire his own experts.
One expert witness is unavailable to testify between July 6 and Nov. 24, Assistant State Attorney Dicky Hough said, which forced the trial to be pushed back until after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
David Brunson, the victim's father, was visibly upset sitting in the courtroom when the continuance was granted.
"I just want it to be over with," Brunson said outside the courthouse. "I just want it to be done with."
Brunson disputes claims his son and Guessford were best friends or roommates as has been reported. He said his son had a two-bedroom apartment and Guessford was just staying with him. The grieving father said he never heard his son refer to Guessford as his best friend.
His son had worked with his father doing electrical work for the last two-and-half years of his life.
"He was my best friend," the elder Brunson said. "He was with me every day."
Brunson's wife, the victim's stepmother, smiled as she remembered Austin Brunson's positive personality and close relationship with his father.
"He was never mad," she said. "He was always making jokes."
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.