The high-profile trial of Ewen Macdonald – accused of murdering his brother-in-law Scott Guy – will be under way this time next week, but some of Mr Guy's closest relatives won't be in the courtroom to watch the opening addresses.
Mr Guy, a Feilding farmer, was found dead with gunshot wounds outside his Aorangi Rd house on July 8, 2010.
In April last year, Macdonald, who turns 32 the day the trial begins on Tuesday, was charged with murdering Mr Guy.
Macdonald is married to one of Mr Guy's sisters, Anna.
A decision from Justice Simon France last year meant the trial, expected to last up to six weeks, was shifted from Palmerston North to the Wellington High Court due to concerns an impartial jury would be hard to find in Manawatu.
Yesterday, Mr Guy's father Bryan said it was difficult for him, wife Jo, and Mr Guy's other sister Nikki, to say how much of the trial they would attend, as they all had to give evidence. Usually, witnesses are excluded from a courtroom until they have given evidence.
This was the case for Dunedin woman Lesley Elliott, whose daughter Sophie was murdered by Clayton Weatherston in January 2008.
Mrs Elliott gave evidence in Weatherston's 2009 trial in Christchurch and was holed up in a hotel room with her sister-in-law until it was her turn in the witness box. She was told not to follow media reports on the case, which was difficult given the extensive coverage.
"I do feel for the Guy family. It's going to be really tough for them."
Mrs Elliott was called to the courtroom in the first week of a 4 1/2 week trial, so got to watch what was happening from quite early on.
She wasn't sure what could be done to improve the situation for others facing the same ordeal.
"I suppose for a fair trial you just have to keep away," she said.
Late last year, Jo and Nikki Guy closed their Palmerston North women's clothing store, Reve.
But Nikki remains a Palmerston North city councillor and could require time off during the trial.
Mayor Jono Naylor said whatever decision she made would be supported by the council.
"Obviously this is going to be another stressful time for the entire Guy family and we'll be wanting to do everything we can to support Nikki. If she needs time off I think that's perfectly fair and reasonable."
Glenn Bullock, father of Mr Guy's widow Kylee, has indicated that his daughter planned to attend court at least some of the time.
Since her husband's death, Kylee Guy and children Hunter and Drover have moved to Hawke's Bay.
The Crown prosecutors will be Palmerston North duo Ben Vanderkolk and Paul Murray.
Mr Vanderkolk also acted as a prosecutor during Mark Lundy's murder trial in 2002.
Criminal lawyer Greg King and experienced Feilding barrister Peter Coles will represent Macdonald.
Mr King has been involved in some of New Zealand's highest profile cases, including defending Weatherston and John Barlow, a Wellington businessman convicted of double murder in 1995.
A Justice Ministry spokesman confirmed Macdonald is receiving legal aid. He has been in custody since his arrest after a nine-month police investigation.
July 8, 2010: Scott Guy is found dead with gunshot wounds outside his Aorangi Rd farmhouse.
July 14: His parents Bryan and Jo Guy make their first emotional public plea for information.
September 18: Police ask for information about Mr Guy's movements in Southland, where he and Macdonald attended a dairy conference.
January 2011: Police investigation team is whittled down to 14 from 40.
March 18: Mr Guy's widow Kylee makes a public plea for information.
April 7: Macdonald appears in court, charged with Mr Guy's murder.
November 18: Trial is shifted to Wellington.
June 5, 2012: Macdonald's trial to start.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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