BY KATHY CHANG
NEW BRUNSWICK – The 12-woman and four-man jury received an inside look at the months leading up to William McGuire’s death in 2004, during the trial for the 34-year-old former fertility clinic nurse who is accused of killing her husband and later dismembering his body more than two years ago.
On March 7, the state called Peter Burnejko, the man who sold his home in Asbury, Warren County, to William and Melanie McGuire, which they closed on April 28, 2004, and John Coscia, the owner of the gun shop in Easton, Pa., where Melanie bought a .38-caliber handgun on April 26, 2004, two days before her husband disappeared.
Burnejko told the jury that he first met the McGuires when he held an open house in November 2003.
“William McGuire came with his wife, Melanie, and an older gentlemen that could have been one of her relatives,” said Burnejko, who said the McGuires stayed at the open house for about 20 minutes. “I didn’t really talk to Melanie other than saying ‘hello’ and ‘thank you for coming.’ William asked questions about the home, but no offer was made that day.”
In January 2004, Burnejko put his home up for sale by owner and a week later, he received a phone call from William McGuire. Over the next several months, Burnejko said he would speak to McGuire on a professional basis over the phone.
“My wife and I met with William in January at my home; Melanie was not there,” said Burnejko. “We discussed the price of the home, which was $515,000 and appraised for $500,000. He signed the contract that day and left a $1,000 deposit. Every call made was returned, whether it was an hour or two later or a few days later. William would call and ask about everything going into purchasing the home.”
On April 28, 2004, the McGuires closed on the half-million-dollar home.
“My lawyer attended the closing for me,” said Burnejko. “I tried to call William McGuire around 6:30 p.m. that night to congratulate them on their new home and say ‘thank you,’ but I talked to Melanie. I said congratulations and said you’ll be happy with your new home, but Melanie didn’t say anything; there was silence on the other line. Then I just said I’d catch up with Bill a little later.”
Burnejko called later – exactly four times – but never talked to William the day of the closing or after. The McGuires never moved into the home.
“I called to let them know that our moving trucks were here and that we would vacate the home by 5 p.m..,” said Burnejko, who said that he would receive phone calls back from William within their busy schedules, promptly.
The jury did learn that two weeks before the closing, William called Burnejko about financial issues.
“A promissory note of $75,000 was decided, which I said was fine,” said Burnejko.
John Coscia met Melanie McGuire on April 26, 2004, when she walked into John’s Gun And Tackle Room gun shop in Easton, Pa., and bought a Taurus Model 85 .38-caliber handgun and a box of bullets.
“To buy a gun in Pennsylvania, the purchaser needs a Pennsylvania driver’s license, and the [Pennsylvania] State Police run a check to make sure the purchaser can buy a gun,” said Coscia.
Coscia said McGuire had to fill out a form where she had to state her last name, Social Security number, date of birth, and occupation. McGuire put down nurse.
Coscia, who said he couldn’t readily identify McGuire sitting in the courtroom, said McGuire was well dressed when she came into his store on April 26.
“I didn’t want to stare at her,” said Coscia, whose comment made the audience in the courtroom laugh as well as the defendant. “Not many women purchase guns. Also, being that I worked as a medical lab technician for 30 years, she was the first nurse who bought a handgun.”
Joseph Tacopina, who is one of McGuire’s three defense attorneys, asked McGuire to come up and stand next to him, and asked Coscia if she was the one he saw that day in his gun shop. Coscia said McGuire was consistent looking to the woman he saw that day.
Coscia said he sells only two types of ammunition for $9.95, of which McGuire bought one type, and said the Taurus handgun that McGuire bought is a common handgun.
McGuire is accused of killing her husband, William McGuire, who was 39 at the time of his death, in their Woodbridge Center Plaza apartment and later dismembering his body between April 28 and May 5, 2004. She has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against her and she remains free on $2.1 million bail.