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Jury hears opening statement and first round of witnesses in McGuiness trial

James Dawson
Delaware Public Media

The public corruption trial for State Auditor Kathy McGuiness began Tuesday.

17 jurors, 10 men and 7 women, heard opening statements from the State of Delaware and McGuinness’ lawyers in the Kent County Courthouse.

State prosecutor Mark Denney outlined the charges against McGuiness. He emphasized details of her daughter’s employment, claiming she was paid more than other seasonal employees, had access to a state car, and remained on payroll after leaving for college in the fall.

Denney played on the emotions from the uncertain early days of the pandemic, claiming McGuiness fired employees to then fill positions with her daughter and her daughter’s friend.

Denney also alleged McGuiness made an extreme amount of requests to monitor some employees’ email accounts, some in real time.

McGuiness’ lawyer, Steve Wood, presented several slides of emails between McGuiness and associated parties, and noted pieces he sees missing in the indictment and the search warrant for the auditor’s office, which he claims contains knowingly false statements made by Chief Special Investigator Frank Robinson.

The state needs to prove McGuiness intentionally committed these acts for her own self-interest, otherwise count 1, a conflict of interest, and count 3, structuring noncompliance with procurement law, are moot, because she must be aware of her actions to be convicted for those crimes.

McGuiness is charged with two felonies: theft and acts of intimidation and three misdemeanors: a conflict of interest, noncompliance with procurement law, and official misconduct.

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.