Belmont County Jury Convicts Kinney of Aggravated Murder

Photo by Robert A. DeFrank David Kinney is taken into custody Tuesday after his conviction for aggravated murder charge in Belmont County Common Pleas Court.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Jurors returned a guilty verdict in the trial of David Carl Kinney on Tuesday, convicting him of aggravated murder with a firearm specification.

Kinney, 31, of Brilliant faces a life sentence for the fatal shooting of Brad McGarry, 43, at McGarry’s Bellaire residence. Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato set Kinney’s sentencing for Feb. 14.

Kinney had reported finding McGarry’s body on May 7 while taking his wife and daughter to visit McGarry at his home. Kinney, who is married, apparently had been romantically involved with McGarry. Law enforcement began to suspect Kinney during a May 9 interview in which Kinney admitted to going to McGarry’s house prior to finding his body, gave several contradictory stories, then said he had shot the other man in self-defense.

Before the jury began its deliberations Tuesday, Belmont County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan and defense attorney Christopher Gagin summed up the week and a half of testimony in their closing statements.

Flanagan described the shooting and Kinney’s actions afterward as part of a purposeful plan, referencing the timeline of communications from Kinney’s phone. Flanagan said Kinney did not respond to communications prior to the shooting because this might give away his position; he noted that Kinney sent communications to McGarry’s phone after the shooting, also in an effort to hide the crime.

“He sends a text to a dead Brad McGarry,” Flanagan said. “He’s sending that to cover his tracks.”

Flanagan also said Kinney used his wife and daughter as pawns in the coverup.

“His story changed every time he was presented with evidence to indicate otherwise. It just evolved. It just changed. Lie after lie,” Flanagan said.

In addition, Flanagan said that although the defense had cited money believed to be missing from McGarry’s house as the triggering event for a fight between the two, there is no evidence of turmoil in McGarry’s communications with Kinney or evidence that money was missing.

Gagin argued that the preponderance of evidence favored Kinney’s explanation of events, and that the prosecution’s case relied on speculation. He said the state had not taken into account additional evidence, such as tissue later found on the side of a washing machine.

“The government never changes its theory,” he said. “‘Kinney lied, therefore he’s guilty,’ that’s their case.”

Gagin also argued that the shooting as described by Kinney in the interview with law enforcement was not borne out by evidence. Gagin pointed out the positions of the two men that Kinney described in the interview, with Kinney standing above a prone McGarry and firing; he said that would not have left the degree of gun residue that was found on the body due to the distance from the barrel to McGarry. Also, he said the trajectory of the bullet in the fatal shot to McGarry’s head did not match this description.

Gagin added that Kinney’s behavior made little sense from a standpoint of intent.

“This is the worst-planned murder in history,” Gagin said.

He added that Kinney only gave the description that he did after an emotionally draining interview, when he had not slept in two days. Gagin said McGarry’s temper and tendency for dramatic acts was known and was a reason why the house appeared ransacked.

“They’re still arguing that David staged the scene, even though there’s no forensic evidence, there’s no touch-DNA evidence, to support that conclusion,” Gagin said.

After hearing the verdict, Gagin moved for an acquittal on the grounds of insufficient evidence to prove prior calculation and design, which Fregiato overruled. Gagin expressed disappointment in the verdict and said Kinney would appeal the case.

The reaction from Kinney’s family upon hearing the verdict was emotional. A lot of tears were shed by his relatives and by members of McGarry’s family, some of whom hugged and comforted one another upon hearing the decision.