CLEARFIELD – A Curwensville man accused of firing a gun in the presence of state troopers took the stand during his trial on Thursday.
Michael David Guelich, 40, of Curwensville faces nine counts of recklessly endangering another person and eight counts of aggravated assault, which stem from an Oct. 10, 2009 domestic dispute at his Pike Township residence, before he fled and ran three state police patrol vehicles off the roadway.
Guelich was the last to testify on Thursday, wrapping up testimony.
Prior to testifying about Oct. 10, 2009, Guelich was asked about his training with firearms. Guelich, a former corrections officer at SCI-Houtzdale, stated that he had training from a state hostage rescue team, his SCI training, military training and self defense. He said he also served as a firearms instructor. He said he was provided with certain weapons and bulletproof vests due to his position in the hostage rescue team.
He testified that Oct. 10, 2009 began as a normal weekend; coffee with his wife, made breakfast for his kids and he coached his son’s football game.
Guelich said the eventually got home from the game and dinner. He testified that he and his wife got into an argument later that evening that started in their detached garage and ended upstairs. He also testified that he drank beer, and later Yukon Jack.
He stated that no weapons were involved in the argument, or any physicality, outside of an instance by their bathroom. Under cross-examination Guelich stated that he pushed open the bathroom door after his wife had gone in, hitting her with the door and breaking the lock in the process.
Guelich said the argument stopped when his youngest son told them he dialed 911. He said he grabbed the phone and redialed.
“I panicked,” said Guelich when he learned his son had called 911. He stated that he told his wife he was going to end things and that she and their sons would be taken care of due to a life insurance policy. He said he went to the basement and got out some guns. His attorney, Chris Pentz, asked him if he was planning to commit suicide.
“I was,” answered Guelich.
Pentz also talked to him about his conversation with the troopers who arrived. On the first day of trial, Trooper Doug Mihalko testified that Guelich told him to “#$%@ off”. Guelich said he did say that. He said that he and Mihalko were friends. He stated that Mihalko announced himself as “Trooper Mihalko.” He stated that before that, “I was Mike, he was Doug.”
Guelich stated that he could not recall the conversation word for word, but that he did tell Mihalko, “You’ll have to break out the back window and shoot me in the back, or it’s going to be suicide by cop.” He stated he told the trooper to leave him alone and let him cool off.
He said that while he was talking with troopers, he was in possession of a semi-automatic rifle. At one point, he admitted he bumped the gun and accidentally chambered a round.
“Was it your intent to cycle the chamber,” asked Pentz. Guelich said, “No.”
He was also questioned about pointing the gun at police through stairway spindles. Guelich said that the way he was holding the gun, it pointed that way. He indicated that he did not realize it was pointing toward police.
Guelich said that eventually he heard the sliding door upstairs shut. He stated that when he heard silence for a bit, he went upstairs to survey the scene. He then went back down the steps. He was shown a photo of a hole in the wall that was testified to earlier in the day as a bullet hole. Guelich said it was a scuff from the muzzle of the rifle. He indicated that his muzzle scuffed the wall, and when he attempted to pull the gun away, it went off. He said after the gun went off, he shouted that it was an accident and that he didn’t mean to do it.
He stated that he sat downstairs in the dark for a bit before heading to the garage. From there he left the residence in his garage. He stated that he was going to go to his camp in Clinton County and took a wrong turn. He said that when he realized he went the wrong way, he was going to turn around but missed the intersection he was going to turn at, Maxville Road. He stated he did not see any police vehicles there, which was something brought up earlier in the day.
Guelich said he turned at the Quarry and came back the way he came. He stated that he had issues with some of the curves on the road due to traveling too fast. He also admitted to forcing three vehicles off the road in these instances. It turned out the vehicles were state troopers who were following Guelich. He said he did not intend to hit any of the vehicles.
“I realized I was in no shape to drive,’ said Guelich.
He said he went to a nearby picnic ground to sleep it off. He testified that he woke up at 5:43 a.m., and when he saw his dash clock, he hoped it was a dream. He stated he went back to Curwensville and filled his tank before going to camp. He also testified under direct that when he went outside from his camp, he saw troopers surrounding it and turned himself over.
Under cross examination, District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. asked Guelich if he was driving drunk. Guelich stated he was driving, but would not say he was drunk. Shaw noted that Guelich spent a lot of time training with firearms, to which Guelich agreed. Shaw stated that one thing people are taught when handling firearms is safety. Shaw asked him if he was taught to hold a loaded firearm pointed at law enforcement. Guelich said not in any training he’s been too.
“Despite training and experience, on this night, you accidentally discharged a firearm,” asked Shaw.
“That’s correct,” answered Guelich.
Shaw also continued to question Guelich’s ability to drive while intoxicated.
“I was capable of driving,” said Guelich, despite earlier testifying that he was in no shape to drive.
He also stated that he was aware the state police were coming at some point, which is why he left his home.
With Guelich being the last to testify, both sides will offer closing arguments on Friday.