Trial in slaying of Clayton teacher to begin Monday

A man accused of stabbing to death his fiancee, a beloved Clayton County second-grade teacher, goes on trial for murder Monday.

Dana McFarlane, 35, is accused of killing Kinaya Byrd, 34, during an Feb. 12 argument in her Stockbridge home, police say.

Meanwhile, Byrd's colleagues and friends will name a teacher resource room in her honor Friday afternoon. The Kinaya Byrd Teacher Resource Room will be dedicated at 4 p.m. at Eddie White K-8 Academy in Hampton -- the school Byrd was supposed to join this fall.

Byrd was a teacher at River's Edge Elementary School in Fayetteville when she was killed.

"She was an outstanding teacher, dearly loved by her co-workers and students and students' parents," Eddie White K-8 principal Clarence Jackson told the AJC. "She loved teaching, and we just want to keep that legacy going, to inspire other teachers to do what she did."

The resource room will include teaching materials Byrd bought before she was killed. Byrd was excited about coming to Eddie White K-8 Academy, which opened this year as Clayton's first kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school. Jackson said the dedication was not timed to coincide with the trial.

McFarlane, who has pleaded not guilty, is charged with malice and felony murder, kidnapping with bodily injury and possession of a knife during the commission of a felony. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in Henry County Superior Court.

Byrd and McFarlane dated for more than two years and got engaged, but had not set a wedding date, according to Byrd's father, Richard Byrd.

Richard Byrd said he feared for his only child's safety because "they had had a couple of altercations." The day before she was killed, Richard Byrd asked if she was afraid of McFarlane. Kinaya Byrd assured him, "Everything's cool. Nothing's wrong," he said.

A neighbor heard the quarrel and called 911. "By the time police got there, she was dead," Richard Byrd said.

Kinaya Byrd graduated from Spelman College and taught kindergarten before getting hired at River's Edge in 2008. She was following in the footsteps of her late mother, Donella Byrd, who was principal at Miles Elementary School in Atlanta.

"It was always what she wanted to do," Richard Byrd said.

According to her obituary, Kinaya Byrd was a "fun-loving fashionista who had good looks, a slim figure and an acute sense of style. She was an excellent cook and delighted in traveling; however, her greatest passion was teaching small children as her mother had done for so many years."