Jury Hears Opening Arguments in Double Murder Trial

Thomas Walsh, the attorney representing the man charged with murder the 2018 shooting deaths of an Aldie mother and son, asserted today “the evidence is not there” for the jury to convict his client. Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Shara Krogh urged the jury to use common sense and remain focused on the “quality evidence” she intends to present during the 20-day trial.

The two presented their opening arguments today to the 14-person jury, which took two full days to assemble from an original pool of close to 100 candidates. The goal was to have 15 jurors, three of whom would serve as alternates, but one juror was dismissed Thursday morning after she informed Circuit Court Judge James P. Fisher she felt she could not remain fair and impartial in the trial.

The case surrounds the Jan. 29, 2018, shooting deaths of Mala Manwani and her adult son, Rishi Manwani, in their Tomey Court home. The suspect, Brian Kuang-Ming Welsh, 41, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.

According to Walsh’s opening arguments, Welsh and Rishi were both addicted to opiates. Welsh had loaned Rishi $600 to purchase the drugs a day prior to the shootings. Walsh said the day of the shootings, the two, along with a third friend named Carlos Rodriguez, went to a bank where Rodriguez withdrew $300 for Rishi.

Krogh asserted that upon returning to Rishi’s residence—the basement of Mala’s home—Welsh shot and killed Rishi and his mother. The mother and son were found with a combined 11 gunshot wounds in their heads two days after they were killed.

Krogh said that Welsh was fired from his job six days before the shootings and that his life was “spiraling out of control.” She told the jury that Welsh also returned a .22 handgun to his brother the afternoon of the shootings, only after swapping out the barrel. Detectives later found the gun at Welsh’s parents’ home. Krogh said evidence will show that the firing pin marks on the shell casings found at the scene of the shootings match that gun.

“The evidence will prove that Brian Welsh was the shooter,” she said.

Krogh said Rishi was “a flawed human being” who was an addict and drug dealer. Walsh said Rishi was also owed money from different people. He pointed to the “owe sheets” found scattered around Rishi’s dead body, and noted that Welsh’s name was found nowhere on those sheets. He also said the gold bracelet Mala always wore was missing from her wrist and was never found in Welsh’s possession.

Walsh said Welsh could not have shot Rishi and Mala because he talked to his mother on the phone for 10 minutes shortly after leaving Rishi’s house and was “calm, cool and collected.” Walsh also emphasized that an employment headhunter Welsh spoke with on the phone that day said Welsh was “delightful” and memorable because the conversation went so well.

Walsh also presented three arguments that could shine light on another potential suspect in the case: the fingerprints found on the French doors near Mala’s body were from another friend of Rishi’s; the DNA found on Rishi’s empty wallet on his chest was from a person, now about 20 years old, who was stuck with a toothpick by a woman in a James City County case 21 years ago; and one of Rishi’s friends who drove by the house the day after the shootings said she saw a “bigger person” in the backyard with Rishi’s pit bull.

“The evidence will show that Mr. Welsh did not kill Rishi or Mala Manwani,” Walsh told the jury.

Prosecutors will begin calling their witnesses today. The trial is scheduled to continue through Feb. 12.

pszabo@loudounnow.com

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