A Merced County jury found Daniel McDonald guilty of voluntary manslaughter for the shooting death of his 46-year-old son Donald McDonald.
The jury of eight women and four men found the Delhi father not guilty of first-degree murder, but were unable to reach a verdict on the charge of making criminal threats. The guilty verdict of voluntary manslaughter includes an enhancement for discharge of a firearm.
The jury deliberated for two and a half days after sitting through the four week trial.
The prosecution, led by Merced County Deputy District Attorney Thomas Min, contended Daniel McDonald was highly intoxicated the night of April 9, 2011, and that an argument between father and son over a broken chainsaw spiraled down into a violent confrontation that ended abruptly when Daniel McDonald shot his son once in the head. The shotgun round hit Donald McDonald in the back of his head near his left ear, according to the prosecution.
Defense attorney Frank Carson claimed his client was often the victim of physical abuse at the hands of the son and that Daniel McDonald picked up the shotgun to defend himself. Daniel McDonald testified the shooting was accidental.
Donald McDonald’s wife Sandra McDonald and friend Curtis Tipton were both present at the Delhi residence the night of the shooting and were called as witnesses by the prosecution.
Tipton testified the two men were arguing about a chainsaw and that the argument turned violent after Daniel McDonald told Sandra McDonald to “shut up.”
Daniel McDonald went into his home and tried to lock the three out. Father and son tussled at the front door, but Daniel McDonald was eventually able to bolt the door shut, Tipton testified.
Sandra McDonald testified Donald McDonald climbed through their bedroom window and was in the living room when a single shot was fired.
On the 911 call Daniel McDonald can be heard in the background admitting to the shooting and when Merced County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the Griffith Avenue residence they found Daniel McDonald still clutching the smoking rifle.
Daniel McDonald, 68, has a sentence hearing set for Sept. 13. He faces the possibility of 20 years in prison.