The man charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the 2018 shooting deaths ofan Aldie mother and son will remain in jail until his month-long trial begins in March.
Circuit Court Judge Douglas L. Fleming, Jr. on Tuesday denied bond for Bryan Kuang-Ming Welsh—the 39-year-old central suspect in the Jan. 29, 2018, shooting deaths of Mala Manwani and her adult son, Rishi Manwani, at their Tomey Court home. Fleming ruled that although Welsh doesn’t pose a flight risk—considering he offered to surrender his passport, faces financial difficulties and has ties to the community—the charges brought against him are too severe to allow him to be set free.
Welsh, an IT worker and father of three boys, was initially charged with the murders on March 20, 2018, 48 days after the bodies were found. Mala was shot four times in the head and left in a corridor between the single-family home’s foyer and front office. Rishi was shot seven times in the head and once in the leg and left in the home’s unfinished basement.
However, when a ballistics report showed that nine bullets found at the crime scene did not match the barrel of the gun found in Welsh’s possession, prosecutors dropped the charges. Welsh was released from jail on Aug. 24, 2018, prior to a preliminary hearing scheduled in Loudoun District Court.
According to testimony from Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office Det. Alonzo Perry, Welsh had been purchasing oxycodone from Rishi Manwani and, on the day of the shootings, had ridden with Rishi to a Bank of America branch. Perry said that Welsh that same day had also returned to his brother a .22-caliber Browning Buck Mark handgun, which belonged to his father.
But the investigation found Welsh’s DNA nowhere—not on the gun, shell casings or anywhere in the house.
Instead, investigators found the fingerprints of another person on the French doors where Mala died and found DNA on a wallet left on Rishi’s chest that was linked to a 2000 case in James City County in which a woman was accused of sticking 25 children with toothpicks, needles and syringes in grocery stores.
But investigators also later found that the shell casings recovered at the shooting scene did match Welsh’s father’s Browning Buck Mark.
Using that evidence, a grand jury in October this year indicted Welsh on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Welsh was arrested the next day at his parents’ home in Locust Grove, where he was living at the time. According to testimony from his mother, Kalayaporn Welsh, the police conducted a five-hour search of their home, seizing three .22-caliber handguns, all of the same make and model.
In his bond motion, Welsh’s attorney, Thomas B. Walsh, argued that prosecutors or investigators intentionally did not tell him or Welsh about the indictments in an effort to arrest Welsh for failure to appear in court. He said that prosecutors could have called him to inform him of the indictments and permit Welsh to appear for the procedural hearing that follows indictments.
“We would have been here,” he told Fleming on Tuesday. “I was available and so was [Welsh].”
Walsh argued that Welsh was not a flight risk because he has an active passport and could have used it to flee the country during the 14 months he has been out of jail and, moreover, that he had no money to flee because he was unsuccessful in obtaining a job during that time. He highlighted Welsh’s clean criminal record and stressed that Welsh has multiple ties within the community—he was seeing a counselor during his time out of jail and participated in an intensive outpatient program in Culpeper.
Walsh urged Fleming to keep the U.S. Constitution in mind, noting that people charged with crimes are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. “We can’t set aside our constitution,” he said.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Amy McMullen argued that in Virginia, presumption of innocence doesn’t apply to pre-trial bond hearings—an argument Fleming acknowledged.
McMullen underscored Welsh’s history of firearm use, pointing to an instance in which Fairfax County Police found Welsh passed out in his car with a gun in his hand, and emphasized the shell casing evidence.
“The nature of these circumstances are serious, they’re violent and that can’t be ignored,” McMullen said.
Although Walsh told Fleming that Welsh would have turned his passport in and that a GPS monitoring device could have been placed on Welsh if he had been released from jail, McMullen argued that Welsh would have been living too far away from Loudoun County to be monitored—about two hours south at his parents’ home in Locust Grove.
Fleming said that while he didn’t believe Welsh was a flight risk, it was necessary for him to take into account the nature of the allegations brought against him.
“I don’t see this as a failure to appear [in court] case,” he said. “I see this as a danger to the community case.”
Welsh has 30 days to appeal Fleming’s decision.
A 25-day jury trial is scheduled from March 2 to April 3.
A first-degree murder conviction carries a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.