An Abington man has been found not guilty of the most serious charges that he killed another man in a parking lot scuffle, but a jury today found him guilty of a lesser charge of assault and battery for his role in the fatal fight.
Michael McGunigle has always claimed his single punch was thrown in self-defense, and by rejecting charges of manslaughter and assault and battery causing bodily injury, the Brockton Superior Court jury agreed.
McGunigle could have spent up to 20 years in prison, but instead faces a maximum two-and-a-half years in the county jail for the assault and battery charge.
The heated argument between McGunigle and Brian Cherry, also of Abington, began in July 2009 after McGunigle’s barking dog began causing problems in a shopping center parking lot.
McGunigle maintains he acted in self-defense when he punched Cherry one time, causing him to fall, hit his head, and later die. But prosecutors say he was the aggressor.
After the verdict, Donna Cherry, the widow of Brian, gave a powerful victim impact statement that brought the courtroom to tears.
“I can't tell him I love him. I can't hug him. I can't kiss him, touch him or feel his touch either. Ever again. Imagine what that must feel like, Mr. McGunigle,” Donna Cherry said.
“You've been irresponsible since by not owning up to what you've done. You had me and my son relive the nightmare of this trial. You made me sit here every day and hear how his head cracked open on the pavement like a goddamn pumpkin. Mr. Mcgunigle, can you look at me?” Cherry demanded.
McGunigle spoke exclusively to FOX Undercover earlier this month, insisting he acted in self-defense. Parts of that interview were played for the jury.
“Do you regret throwing that punch?” FOX Undercover’s Mike Beaudet asked him.
“That's a hard question. I really felt threatened. And I -- what was I going to do? Let him hit me?” he replied.
His defense attorney, Wayne Murphy, spoke outside the court after today’s verdict
“Michael McGunigle has been sorry every day for his role in that fateful incident,” Murphy said. “He’s relieved that the jury’s verdict has proven all along that he had acted in self-defense.”