Forensic Testimony Continues in Kinney Murder Trial in Belmont County

Photo by Robert A. DeFrank Defense attorney Chris Gagin, left, questions Bellaire police Officer Hank Martin Thursday during day three of David Carl Kinney’s murder trial.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Forensic testimony and the information gathered from the phone of David Carl Kinney took center stage as his murder trial continued on Thursday.

Kinney, 31, of Brilliant, is accused of the murder of Brad McGarry, 43, at McGarry’s residence at Wanger Avenue in Bellaire on May 7. Police were called to the scene by Kinney, who had said he had discovered the body when he had gone to visit McGarry, accompanied by his wife and daughter.

Suspicion fell on Kinney when he was called to the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office for an interview May 9. Under questioning, he allegedly gave contradictory stories and eventually said he arrived at McGarry’s residence earlier and shot him in self-defense. He is maintaining this defense.

Kinney and McGarry had been involved in a romantic relationship.

Testimony included Josh Durst, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation special agent, who was questioned concerning the analysis of the scene. He related that touch DNA samples were taken from drawer handles in McGarry’s residence.

He said law enforcement had considered that the house had been staged to resemble a robbery. Kinney’s defense team maintains that McGarry went through the house and flung open the drawers in anger, during an argument touching on money Kinney said McGarry believed had been stolen.

Durst described his method of analysis.

“The surface is small, so the likelihood of getting a good, developed, latent print with sufficient ridge detail essentially isn’t possible, because the surface that I’m examining isn’t large enough,” he said. “That’s why I elected to use a swab to establish a DNA profile.”

Gagin noted that there was no DNA profile that was attributed to Kinney among the swabs.

Belmont County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan referred to other testimony, indicating there were mixtures of DNA in the house.

“Technically, anybody in this courtroom could be part of that DNA. We don’t know,” Gagin said.

Gagin also questioned Durst concerning a piece of scalp found adhered to a washing machine in the basement of McGarry’s house.

During his interview with law enforcement, Kinney had indicated that he had shot McGarry in a certain way, but Gagin argues that the presence of a piece of scalp found stuck to a washing machine hints at the trajectory of the bullet, and so it could not have happened in that way.

Durst said he did not believe information about how the shooting occurred could be deducted from the presence of scalp.

“My opinion is, there’s no way to scientifically say how it was deposited there,” Durst said.

“When you talk about tissue in correlation with a gunshot scene, gunshots are violent. It’s a violent explosion. It’s an unpredictable event. The only thing that’s somewhat predictable is how a bullet’s going to fly out of the end of the barrel,” he said. “Bone, tissue, and to some extent even blood, it’s very unpredictable. The piece of tissue found on the drier, could it have been a result of being expelled from the exit wound? Absolutely. That’s a possibility. Unfortunately, there’s other ways it could be deposited. It could have been affixed to somebody’s clothing whether before the incident or even after the incident. It could have been transferred.”

Under questioning from Flanagan, Durst said tissue could not be used as an adequate indicator of trajectory.

“A bullet is a known mass. It has a certain weight. We know what it is…By design, bullets are meant to be stable,” he said. “If you look at a piece of bone or a piece of tissue, it’s not a symmetrical shape, it’s not necessarily spinning or rotating, who knows how much it would actually weigh? Who knows how much force would be put upon it, especially coming out of an exit site?”

Durst added that the investigation was complicated by the fact that no weapon has been found and which could be tested.

The jury also heard from Belmont County Detective Sgt. Douglas Cruse, who analyzed Kinney’s and McGarry’s phones to obtain their communications as far back as 2015. He testified that the communications did not indicate any anger on McGarry’s part about stolen money.

Under cross-examination from Gagin, Cruse said he found no indications of threats from Kinney against McGarry, or any attempts to set up the May 7 meeting. Cruse said their prior communications had little turmoil.

“Definitely not of anger. Brad seemed to be upset sometimes that Mr. Kinney didn’t come down and spend enough time (with him),” Cruse said.

He also said Kinney was cooperative in giving his phone to law enforcement.

for analysis.

Flanagan pointed out a communication from 2016, where McGarry had indicated he was upset at Kinney for lying.

Bellaire Police officer Hank Martin was also called to the stand again to testify to the search of Kinney’s vehicle and residence with a sheriff’s deputy.

Proceedings resumed today. The trial is expected to last into Saturday.