Month-Long Double Murder Trial Begins

It was three years ago this month when Sheriff’s Office detectives found Mala Manwani and her adult son, Rishi Manwani, lying dead on the floor of their Aldie home, with a combined 11 gunshot wounds in their heads.

This week, the work began to assemble a 14-member jury that will hear evidence during a month-long trial to determine whether Brian Kuang-Ming Welsh is guilty of murder in the shootings.

Close to 100 prospective jurors were called to Circuit Court Judge James P. Fisher’s courtroom at different times for voir dire, the jury selection process. By the end of the day Tuesday, that process was ongoing. It was anticipated that a jury would be selected by Wednesday afternoon. The trial is scheduled to last each weekday through Feb. 12.

During that time, the case will be heard in one courtroom, the jury will convene in another courtroom and the public and press will sit in yet another courtroom to watch the trial via a closed-circuit broadcast. That’s all in line with the Loudoun County Circuit Court’s plan to resume jury trials, which the Virginia Supreme Court approved in October.

Welsh, 41, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. He is represented by Thomas Walsh, who also represented then-juvenile Lee Boyd Malvo in the 2002-2004 case surrounding the DC sniper attacks that killed 10 people.

Prosecuting the case for the state are Acting Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Barry Zweig and Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Shara Krogh.

The case surrounds incidents that took place Jan. 29, 2018, and left Mala Manwani dead with four gunshot wounds in her head in the hallway on the main floor of her Tomey Court home and her adult son Rishi Manwani dead with seven gunshot wounds in his head and one in his leg in the home’s unfinished basement.

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.

According to testimony during a Dec. 10, 2019, bond hearing from Sheriff’s Office Det. Alonzo Perry, Welsh had been purchasing oxycodone from Rishi. On the day of the shootings, Perry testified, the two drove to Bank of America together for Rishi to withdraw the $600 Welsh loaned him. Perry also testified that Welsh returned a .22-caliber Browning Buck Mark handgun to his brother that same day.

Still, investigators found none of Welsh’s DNA at the crime scene. Instead, they found the fingerprints of another person on the French doors where Mala died and DNA on a wallet left on Rishi’s chest that was linked to the suspect in 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.

When investigators found shell casings at the scene that matched Welsh’s father’s Browning Buck Mark handgun, a grand jury in October 2019 indicted Welsh on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. Welsh was re-arrested at his parents’ home in Locust Grove that month. Police also searched the home and seized three .22-caliber handguns.

pszabo@loudounnow.com

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