The bullets don’t match.
That finding by forensics investigators resulted today in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office halting the prosecution against Brian K. Welsh, 38, who had been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the double homicide of a mother and her adult son found dead in their Aldie home Jan. 31.
Welsh has been held in jail without bond since his arrest in March. Today, he was in court for a preliminary hearing on the charges. Before the hearing started, however, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Sean P. Morgan announced that a ballistics report sent to his office yesterday showed that nine bullets found at the crime scene did not match the gun found in Welsh’s possession.
As a result, he said, Sheriff’s Office detectives have reopened the case and will continue their investigation.
With no pending charges, Welsh is expected to be released.
The investigation began after Mala Manwani, 65, and her son Rishi Manwani, 32, were found dead at their home on Tomey Court. Mala’s co-worker asked deputies to check on her after she failed show up at work during the week. Investigators believe the Manwanis were killed about two days before they were found.
When announcing Welsh’s arrest, investigators said he and Rishi were close friends, and it was believed Welsh targeted Rishi over narcotics activity taking place inside the home. The mother was not believed to be an intended target. Both victims were found shot multiple times in different parts of the home.
Detectives at the time said they interviewed more than 60 people and followed leads in West Virginia and northern and central Virginia and served 21 search warrants and seven court orders before filing the charges.
They also claimed that the firearm they linked to Welsh forensically matched to shell casings found at the scene.
Welsh’s attorney, Thomas B. Walsh, in court today said that he had previously disputed that claim and had challenged prosecutors’ attempts to link the on-scene evidence to the weapon linked to Welsh. “The bullets don’t match. I’ve been saying that all along,” he said.
Walsh also said that DNA evidence found on one of the murder victims had excluded Welsh as a suspect, but did match an individual in the state’s database.
Morgan’s statement of the situation, read to the judge in court, is as follows:
“Yesterday, a Certificate of Analysis was provided to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office from the Department of Forensic Science, Firearms and Toolmarks Section.
This Certificate of Analysis found that 9 of the bullets recovered from Mala & Rishi Manwani and at the residence where the homicides occurred, did not match to the barrel of the firearm, which through other evidence gathered by Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, is connected with Brian Welsh.
However, this same firearm was identified as having fired the 9 casings found at the scene of the homicides in close proximity to the bodies.
This new information requires further substantial investigation in a number of different areas. The Sheriff’s Office has reacted swiftly and has already begun investigative efforts.
A specific time frame cannot be provided as to when the additional investigation will be completed.
Much of the investigation will involve, among other things, getting information from other agencies, organizations, and companies, as well as additional examinations and testing of items by the Department of Forensic Science.
For these reasons, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office elected to Move the Court for an order of “Nolle Prosequi,” which is an election not to prosecute the matter at this time.”