On Dec. 17, a jury in Hennepin County District Court found Jeffery MacDonald, 37, a Burroughs Community School 4th-grade teacher, guilty of first-degree attempted murder and making terroristic threats against his estranged wife.
MacDonald faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for the attempted first-degree murder conviction and up to five years in prison for the terrorist threat conviction. Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar said sentencing in the case is scheduled for Jan. 26.
Klobuchar said the jury deliberated for five hours before coming back with a verdict in the case. However, Klobuchar said while jurors deliberated over MacDonald's fate, MacDonald - who had been released on bail while awaiting the verdict - went home, turned on the gas and tried to commit suicide.
She said MacDonald's family found him and he was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center for treatment.
The criminal complaint said MacDonald lured his estranged wife to his house on the night of Sept. 24, asking if she could do him a favor while he was away. McDonald hid in the basement, then ambushed and assaulted the woman, threatening to kill her and himself.
The victim escaped by convincing MacDonald she'd consider reconciling, and when he was distracted, she fled.
Klobuchar said the murder/suicide note left by MacDonald shows that he planned to kill the victim.
Before the trial, MacDonald's lawyer Robert D. Miller, confident of an acquittal, said MacDonald had a lot of supporters and was being routinely
monitored for mental issues, as a matter of protocol.
Klobuchar said during the trial MacDonald's estranged wife testified against her attacker, however, friends, family members and other Burroughs teachers testified for MacDonald as "character witnesses," mostly saying he's a good person and good teacher. But she said, "The facts in this case were very clear."
The Minneapolis Public School District hired MacDonald in April 1996, and he began teaching full-time at Burroughs, 1501 W. 50th St., in August 1998. MacDonald has been on unpaid leave from his teaching job since Oct. 8. District officials say they're awaiting formal notice of the conviction, then if MacDonald doesn't resign, steps toward his termination will be taken.
"This has been very hard for the community and the kids in the school," Klobuchar said. "But the truth is on the side that [MacDonald] nearly killed someone. He was close to killing someone and had a gun. Justice was done in this case."