Testimony Closes in David Kinney Murder Trial in Belmont County

Photo by Robert A. DeFrank David Carl Kinney listens as testimony concludes Monday in his murder trial in Belmont County Common Pleas Court.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — David Carl Kinney will soon learn his fate because jurors today should hear closing arguments from the prosecution and defense at the end of the trial to determine whether his fatal shooting of Brad McGarry was an act of self-defense or of murder.

Kinney, 31, of Brilliant, reported finding the body May 7 during a visit with his wife and daughter, but suspicion fell on Kinney when he was asked to an interview at the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office May 9. He would admit that he had gone to the Bellaire residence of McGarry, 43, at an earlier point on May 7. After several contradictory stories, Kinney said he shot McGarry in self-defense.

Kinney had apparently been romantically involved with McGarry.

Defense attorneys rested their case Monday after five days of testimony, beginning last Tuesday and going into Saturday. Those testifying included friends and relatives of the two men, investigators, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents who examined the scene and the evidence, the coroner who conducted the autopsy, and the recording of the four-hour interview primarily with Chief Detective Ryan Allar of the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office, which resulted in Kinney admitted to the shooting and saying he acted in self-defense after McGarry brandished a gun and pointed the weapon at him. Kinney has since maintained this.

Chris Gagin, defense attorney for Kinney, produced a forensic expert to testify that McGarry’s wounds and the forensic evidence at the scene corresponded to the shots being fired during a fight. The trial saw lengthy questioning concerning the dynamic nature of an altercation involving moving bodies, the ability to accurately judge trajectories of gunfire, and the reliability of using such evidence as tissue and a hat found at the scene to suggest the positions of Kinney and McGarry during that final encounter.

Throughout the case, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan has emphasized what he described as Kinney’s deceptive behavior, pointing out his actions in driving his family to McGarry’s house afterward, calling McGarry along the way, and appearing to discover the body, as well as the ransacked house in what investigators suspect was a staged scene.

Kinney maintains McGarry ransacked the house himself in a fit of anger during an argument with Kinney. Gagin pointed out that DNA samples taken from drawer and cabinet handles have not yielded a matching profile of Kinney. Gagin also produced a forensic psychologist who had diagnosed Kinney as suffering from acute stress disorder following the shooting, which resulted in his actions afterward. Flanagan has produced a rebuttal expert forensic psychologist who disagrees with that diagnosis.

The gun used in the shooting has not been found, although Kinney has said he discarded the weapon along Ohio 7 near Bellaire.

Kinney declined to testify Monday.

Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato delivered jury instructions, noting Kinney could be acquitted or found guilty of murder with a firearm specification, or of aggravated murder with a firearm specification.

The distinction will depend on whether Kinney acted with purpose and prior calculation and design.