Murder accused Ewen Macdonald sobbed quietly in the dock as his wife Anna agreed her life had never been more perfect than the day before her brother was killed.

Macdonald, 32, has denied shooting and killing his brother-in-law Scott Guy, 31, after growing tensions over the future of the family farm in Feilding.

He has sat impassively in the dock for much of the seven days of his trial, looking down and taking notes.

But as his wife Anna Macdonald gave evidence for the second time in the High Court at Wellington today, he broke down in tears in what was his first overt display of emotion.


Defence lawyer Greg King asked Mrs Macdonald if her life had ever been more perfect than on the day before Mr Guy was killed.

"No,'' she said.

She agreed she was positive about the future, had four beautiful children with Macdonald, and was positive about her husband.

"We were all in a really good space,'' she said, wiping a tear from her eye.

As she spoke, Macdonald sobbed in the dock for more than a minute. He held a blue handkerchief to his eyes as he wept.

The jury has this week been hearing evidence about the relationship between Macdonald and Mr Guy, which is crucial in establishing a motive.

The Crown alleges tension between the two men led to Macdonald killing Mr Guy in his driveway in the near-darkness of early July 8, 2010.

Mrs Macdonald earlier told the court she had a gut feeling that three families running the family farm would not work.

In 2006, she and Macdonald were in talks about running the farm with her mother and father, Bryan and Jo Guy, and her brother Scott and wife Kylee.

"I wasn't so sure because I don't think three's a great number. Two's company, three's a crowd.''

But Macdonald said it would be "a great start'' and she agreed.

"We were starting to grow a family so we thought this was a good place for us.''

Mrs Macdonald said her husband and Mr Guy got "a bit competitive'' and Macdonald wanted to prove he was better on the farm.

The competition between the men "wasn't overly obvious'' but tension arose over rearing the calves - a job taken off Macdonald and given to Mr Guy.

But although Macdonald was frustrated he did not bring the issue up. He was also upset about what he saw as the lower pay he was getting and the extra hours he was putting in.

There were also tensions when she and her husband moved out of a small cottage on the farm and into the family home, while Bryan and Jo Guy moved to a house in town in Feilding.

Mrs Macdonald said Mr Guy got "ratty'' about that.

"That was obviously building up.''

The tensions came to the surface at a meeting in 2008 at which Mr Guy raised issues with the way the farm was run - and signalled that he wished to inherit the family farm.

Mrs Macdonald said Mr Guy was on the attack and she and her husband were "quite shocked''.

She recalled her father Bryan Guy had to step in and tell Scott he would not inherit the farm.

Bryan Guy told the court it was not unusual to hold farm meetings, but he was surprised when Scott came with an agenda they had not discussed before.

"Some of it was quite harsh criticisms on how he saw the farm operating.''

The meeting was "tense'' but people were clam and collected about it.

"We all wanted the business to succeed.''

Scott Guy raised issues about the lack of communication and said it was unfair that he and wife Kylee did not own a home, unlike the other farm shareholders - an issue that was later sorted when a new home was built for the couple.

Bryan Guy told the court he did not desperately want his children to take on the farming business and there was no obligation on them to do so.

But he did encourage them to become shareholders in the farm because he thought they would put more into the business.

It had come as a surprise when Scott Guy said he wanted to inherit the farm.

"He had the expectation that he would inherit the farm. It certainly wasn't the expectation that Joanne and I had.''

But Bryan Guy said the issue was talked about openly and frankly and he agreed he thought it had been put to bed.

Kylee Guy told the court the relationship between Mr Guy and Macdonald was fine at first, but communication was an issue.

People on the farm would come to her husband with problems but he got frustrated at the lack of action.

"Scott would try to bring it forward and he just felt he wasn't being listened, no one took any notice.''

Ms Guy said her husband was "a real softie'' and did not want to upset anyone when the Macdonalds moved into the family home.

"All Scott wanted was to be fair.''

The trial continues tomorrow with evidence from Detective Sergeant David Thompson, who investigated Mr Guy's death.