Bellaire Murder Case Heading to Grand Jury in Belmont County

Photo by Robert A. DeFrank David Carl Kinney faces a murder charge in the fatal shooting of Brad McGarry at his Bellaire home.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County Eastern Division Court Judge Albert Davies determined Thursday there is sufficient evidence to pursue a murder charge against David Carl Kinney in the shooting death of Brad McGarry.

The murder weapon has yet to be found.

The case against Kinney, accused of killing McGarry in his Bellaire home, will go before a grand jury next month. Kinney is charged with murder with a firearm specification.

A $1 million bond was continued, and Kinney remained lodged at the Belmont County Jail.

On the day of the murder, Kinney, 30, of Brilliant contacted police, saying he had found the body while visiting McGarry’s home on May 7. Kinney’s wife and daughter accompanied him on the visit. He was arrested days later, after allegedly giving several conflicting stories under questioning by law enforcement and eventually claiming to have shot McGarry, 43, in self-defense.

The court Thursday first heard from Hank Martin, the Bellaire police officer who was first to respond to the scene. He described meeting Kinney in front of the house, clearing the residence for signs of other people and finding the body in the basement. There was also some appearance of theft, he said.

“The rooms were, like I said, somewhat ransacked and stuff was just strewn,” he testified, adding that Kinney had made no indication he had been at the McGarry residence earlier that day.

Under further questioning by Belmont County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan, Martin examined pictures from the personal video security surveillance system of Bellaire Police Chief Michael Kovalyk’s residence, located about 125 yards from the scene, which captured images of the deceased prior to the murder in his car and later of Kinney’s truck.

Chris Gagin, defense attorney representing Kinney, pointed out that while a .40-caliber handgun was taken from Kinney, it did not match the .22-caliber bullets found in McGarry.

Belmont County Sheriff’s Department Detective Ryan Allar testified about the investigative process, as well as the interview conducted with Kinney. Allar said the residence did not appear to have been robbed, due to the number of expensive items remaining in the house. Allar also said Kinney told him he had been in frequent communication with McGarry that afternoon through text messages and phone calls.

Allar described the May 9 interview.

“I had him walk me through his day,” Allar said, adding that Kinney claimed to have been running errands before picking up his family and discovering the body.

“Constantly, the defendant’s narrative changed. As I was talking to him I started to suspect that he was the one that had killed Brad McGarry,” Allar said. “I began to point out things that I knew to be true that conflicted with the defendant’s statements. … There were various stories told.”

He said Kinney admitted to being at the residence but said McGarry was not home. Allar said Kinney changed his story again when Allar pointed out that Kinney would have known McGarry was not home due to a prior statement. He said Kinney then said McGarry had arrived at his home with an unknown man, and Kinney claimed to have run when he heard a gunshot.

“I pointed out that this didn’t make any sense. Why would he bring his family back later, then call the victim from his car? The narrative changed to: There was this unknown man that killed Mr. McGarry in front of the defendant and he was keeping quiet because he was afraid for his life.”

Allar said Kinney eventually altered his story again, now saying there had been a physical altercation in which he had shot McGarry in self-defense. He read a portion of a written statement by Kinney, describing an initial argument with McGarry about money that apparently continued as they entered the basement a little after 3 p.m.

“We went to the basement, and that’s when I started to tell him we can no longer be seeing each other in any other way than being friends. He started arguing and yelling,” Allar quoted Kinney, who added that McGarry attacked him.

Belmont County Prosecutor Dan Fry has said Kinney and McGarry apparently had been involved in a romantic relationship at some point.

“He grabbed his derringer pistol off the hot tub,” Kinney’s statement continued. “He was waving it and pointing it at me. I was scared and worried. He came at me. I pushed him away … shot him once. He went to the ground, and I shot him again.”

Allar also read Kinney’s statement about the aftermath of the shooting.

“I was panicked and didn’t know what to do other than throw the gun and come back later,” Allar quoted Kinney. “I threw the gun east while northbound on Route 7 just north of Bellaire and came back later that day. I didn’t know what to do.”

Allar pointed out that the two bullet entry wounds were in the back of McGarry’s head. Allar said Kinney changed his story seven or eight times in attempts to exonerate himself or blame others.

While .22-caliber ammunition was found in Kinney’s truck, Gagin pointed out that Kinney owned a .22-caliber rifle, which could account for the ammunition. No shell casings have been found at the scene.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is analyzing evidence, and investigators are awaiting the complete findings such as the trajectories of the bullets and a toxicology screening of the body. Allar also will analyze the video feed from Kovalyk’s security system.

Gagin said Kinney and McGarry had a long-standing friendship, which would explain Kinney’s prior presence and DNA evidence at the scene. He also said there were no witnesses to the crime.

Gagin argued that the court could not impose a charge of murder on the grounds that there is insufficient evidence that Kinney acted with purpose and intention. He asked that Kinney be charged with manslaughter.

Flanagan countered that Kinney’s behavior shows a lack of credibility, and he also pointed out the shots were to the head rather than any other body part.

“From the very beginning he tried to deviate and cast blame on other individuals when, in fact, he did this all along,” Flanagan said. “Lie after lie after lie had occurred, until eventually he admits to shooting the victim in this case. … Mr. Kinney’s several statements are so incredible that this court cannot believe his version of events.”