The man accused of shooting and killing a mother and her son in their Aldie home two years ago has requested that he be released from jail out of fear that he might contract COVID-19.
Welsh, 40, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony—charges stemming from the Jan. 29, 2018, shooting deaths of Mala Manwani and her adult son, Rishi Manwani, at their Tomey Court home. Mala was shot four times in the head and Rishi was shot seven times in the head and once in the leg.
The case is scheduled to go to trial starting on Oct. 5.
Last week, Brian Kuang-Ming Welsh’s attorney, Thomas Walsh, requested the court consider releasing Welsh with GPS monitoring in light of the coronavirus pandemic, citing sources showing that confinement in areas alongside other individuals increases the risk of infection.
“The unprecedented and extraordinarily dangerous nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has become apparent,” Walsh wrote in his March 19 request. “The changed circumstances necessitate a reconsideration of the defendant’s bond conditions.”
Walsh wrote that he is unable to review case evidence with Welsh over the phone. The Loudoun County Adult Detention Center has suspended all contact visits, including with legal counsel.
Circuit Court Judge James P. Fisher previously denied Welsh’s Feb. 26 bond request in a March 6 order. Prosecutors had supported releasing Welsh as long as he complied with other conditions, including an 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. curfew, relinquishment of his passport and regular home and office visits with community corrections.
Fisher wrote in his order that Welsh’s liberty “constitutes an unreasonable danger to himself or to the public.”
Welsh was initially charged with the murders in March 2018. But 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 in August 2018, prior to a preliminary hearing scheduled in Loudoun District Court.
While investigators found none of Welsh’s DNA at the crime scene, they did find fingerprints of another person 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.
Welsh was re-arrested at his parents’ home in October 2019 when investigators later found that the shell casings found at the scene matched Welsh’s father’s handgun.
A 25-day jury trial is scheduled from October 5 to Nov. 6. If convicted of all four charges, Welsh could spend up to two life sentences in prison. Welsh is scheduled to be back in court on April 22, June 25 and Aug. 13 for pretrial motions.
Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Kraig Troxell said there are no known COVID-19 exposures or cases at the Adult Detention Center.
He said the Sheriff’s Office has implemented measures in the jail to ensure the health and well-being of inmates, staff and visitors.
Incoming Inmates are subject to a tiered entry process. After their initial 48- to 72-hour wait time, in which they await their medical clearance, inmates are checked for signs of sickness. If they exhibit no symptoms, they are transferred to a new medical observation unit for 12 to 14 days for further observation before joining the general population. If they exhibit flu-like symptoms, they are quarantined in a negative airflow cell. Troxell said the county’s medical contractor has also increased its observation and assessment of those incoming inmates.
While contact visitation has been cancelled, inmates can see their family and friends through video. Inmates are also not physically appearing in court as much. Instead, the courts are using video calls more frequently to minimize the number of inmate transfers in and out of the jail. Volunteer programs have been postponed and tours of the jail have been canceled.