A unanimous 12-person jury recommended Brian Kuang-Ming Welsh spend the rest of his life in prison for the murders of an Aldie mother and son.
The jury Feb. 16 convicted Welsh, 41, on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. A day later, the jury sentenced Welsh to the maximum punishment allowable under Virginia law for those convictions: life in prison for each murder count and three years in prison for each felony use of a firearm count.
Welsh is scheduled for formal sentencing by Circuit Court Judge James P. Fisher on June 14.
On Jan. 29, 2018, Welsh gunned down Mala Manwani, 65, and her adult son, Rishi Manwani, 32, in their Aldie home. Investigators found them both in the home two days later, Mala with five gunshot wounds in the back of her head and Rishi with seven in his head and one in his leg.
According to prosecutors, the shooting was the product of Welsh’s drug addiction. Acting Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Barry Zweig and Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Shara Krogh asserted through witness testimony during the month-long trial that Welsh had visited with Rishi that to purchase prescription pills.
Zweig painted the picture that Welsh, upon seeing Rishi with at least $3,000 in cash in his hand, shot and killed Rishi and then proceeded upstairs to kill Mala “because he had to.” Zweig argued that Mala was trying to escape through the front door when Welsh shot her in the back of the head. Welsh’s defense counsel, Thomas Walsh, denied that speculation.
Zweig and Krogh leaned most heavily on evidence that the shell casings found at the scene matched the firing pin on a .22-caliber Browning Buck Mark handgun found in Welsh’s father’s possession, and that the barrel on that gun had been changed out. Zweig said Welsh “orchestrated the disappearance, disposal and destruction of” that barrel, which was never found.
Walsh argued during the trial that investigators ignored certain pieces of evidence.
He said they neglected to check for fingerprints on the video gaming controllers found in the basement where Rishi was found; neglected to interview the people involved in a 2000 James City County case, considering the DNA found on Rishi’s wallet on his chest matched a person in that case; and neglected to test the bloody fingerprint found on the French door next to Mala’s body.
Walsh also asserted that investigators overlooked evidence that there was potentially a separate person involved in the murders, pointing to evidence showing that Rishi had scrapes and bruises on his face a few weeks prior to his death and testimony from a woman who said she saw a man who did not match Welsh’s description standing in the Manwani’s yard with Rishi’s Pitbull on Jan. 30, 2018.
Zweig said each piece of evidence Walsh presented was a “red herring” used to distract from the key aspects of the case.