Testimony Continues in Belmont County Murder Trial

Photo by Robert A. DeFrank Coroner Dr. Jeff Lee of Licking County testifies Wednesday during David Carl Kinney’s murder trial in Belmont County Common Pleas Court.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Testimony continued Wednesday in the murder trial of David Carl Kinney, 31, of Brilliant, accused of the fatal shooting of Brad McGarry, 43, at McGarry’s Bellaire residence on Wagner Avenue.

Issues under discussion included information about Kinney’s mental state and behavior after the shooting, as well as forensic evidence.

Kinney is maintaining that he shot McGarry in self-defense after McGarry produced a gun and they fought. McGarry had been involved in a romantic relationship with Kinney, who has a wife. Kinney contacted police to report finding the body, but suspicion fell on him when he was asked to an interview at the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office. During the course of the interview, Kinney gave several different stories before saying he shot McGarry in self-defense.

Bellaire Police Chief Michael Kovalyk took the stand to testify. Kovalyk, who also lives on Wagner Avenue about two blocks away from McGarry, has surveillance cameras on his house and captured footage of Kinney driving past, then McGarry’s vehicle, then of Kinney leaving.

Kinney returned to the scene later with his wife and daughter and notified police, reporting that he had found McGarry’s body. He described his participation in investigating the scene while law enforcement awaited investigators from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The jury also saw footage of Kinney from an officer’s body camera as first responders asked him about the situation.

During cross-examination, Kinney’s defense attorney Christopher Gagin questioned Kovalyk about the four-hour wait before BCI arrived, as well as the activity going on at the scene before the BCI personnel arrived.

Belmont County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan called Kinney’s wife, Cheri Kinney, to the stand to speak about Kinney’s demeanor and behavior when he drove her and their daughter to McGarry’s house and when they arrived at the home and found McGarry’s body in the basement.

Under questioning, she said Kinney did not seem anxious or nervous during the day of May 7, when he arrived back from his fatal meeting with McGarry, or when they left for McGarry’s residence.

“We went to the back door and noticed it was cracked open,” she said, adding that Kinney then retrieved his gun from the vehicle and they entered the residence. She said Kinney began checking the residence, eventually going into the basement. “He went down in the basement, then he yelled to dial 911 … I ran down the steps as I was dialing 911…

“He was crouched down on the floor when I came around the car, then I saw Mr. McGarry laying there,” she said. “He was hysterical. Crying.”

Flanagan compared Kinney’s reaction to his apparent calm before.

“You notice no difference. Just a regular day,” Flanagan said. “Then, like that, he becomes hysterical.”

Prosecution played a recording of the 911 call.

The court then heard from Dr. Jeff Lee, chief forensic pathologist and deputy coroner with Licking County, who performed the autopsy on McGarry. He described the two wounds, a non-fatal gunshot wound that skidded the top of McGarry’s skull, but did not enter the brain, although it would have cause a concussion and profuse bleeding, and a shot that entered the back of McGarry’s head.

Lee described the harm done by each shot and the path of the bullet through McGarry’s brain. He also described the various traumas to the body, including bruising and discolorations around the eye.

Gagin cross examined Lee about a camouflage hat found at the scene, which McGarry might have been wearing, as suggested by the soot and lead residue on it and the rips in the hat, which correspond to wounds in McGarry’s head. Lee said the condition of the hat suggested the gun barrel was several inches from McGarry’s head when fired. Gagin also asked Lee if the path of the non-fatal shot could indicate which direction McGarry was facing. Lee said it could indicate a general direction.

The trial is expected to resume at 8:30 a.m. today, and could last into Saturday.