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Kinney sentenced to life with no parole

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK David Carl Kinney, pictured with defense attorney Chris Gagin, is sentenced to life without parole for the murder of Brad McGarry in Bellaire.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — David Carl Kinney will pay for taking the life of Brad McGarry by spending his own life behind bars, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Kinney was convicted earlier this month of aggravated murder for shooting McGarry to death at his Bellaire home. Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato imposed a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, with an added three years for a gun specification.

Kinney, 31, of Brilliant was found guilty after an eight-day trial. Kinney, who was married, apparently was romantically involved with McGarry, 43, at McGarry’s Bellaire residence.

Kinney originally had reported finding McGarry’s body during a visit to the Bellaire home accompanied by his wife and daughter on May 7. Suspicion fell on him during an interview May 9 with Belmont County sheriff’s Chief Detective Ryan Allar, in which Kinney gave several contradictory stories. He finally admitted he had shot McGarry but claimed he did so in self-defense when McGarry produced a gun, which Kinney said was fatally fired in the course of a struggle.

Jack Bonar, a friend of the McGarry family, spoke during the sentencing hearing, saying they would never forget the day they learned of McGarry’s death.

“The first person we met was Mr. Kinney. He was crying, trying to explain what he knew about what had happened. We cried together. A very emotional time. Little did we know that this was the man that brought a gun to Brad’s house with the intention of killing him,” he said. “I don’t understand how a person could take another person’s life, especially when they claim that that was their best friend.”

Belmont County Prosecutor Dan Fry recommended the maximum sentence.

“May 7 … the defendant became jury and judge with regard to Mr. McGarry’s life. Very early on, there was never a question of who did it … ,” Fry said. “The sentence that he imposed on Mr. McGarry is far worse than anything he could possibly get here. … The only justice we can give the McGarry family short of giving back their loved one … is if the court imposes a life sentence upon Mr. Kinney without any chance whatsoever of ever getting parole. That’s the state’s recommendation.”

Chris Gagin, Kinney’s defense attorney, asked Fregiato to consider the forensic psychologists’ reports, as well as the testimony from Kinney’s family members, saying he was honorable, hard-working and responsible, as well as a loving husband and father. Gagin also pointed out Kinney’s largely law-abiding life prior to the case.

“The tragedy of this case is undeniable, and the pain that it has caused to both families is undeniable,” he said, adding that the law allows for a sentence of possible parole, which Gagin said would not demean the sentence. “This sentencing is as much about the future as it is about the past.”

Gagin said Kinney could be a law-abiding and contributing member of society if eventually released. He also asked Fregiato to recall a murder case in another common pleas court in June 2017, in which Harold Wayne Johnson was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 20 years for aggravated murder with a firearm specification for the fatal shooting of Clint Stephens, 48, of Jerusalem, along Ohio 800 south of Somerton.

“Mr. Johnson shot a gentleman when he was seated in a car six times in the head, and he ended up entering a plea to the exact same offense,” Gagin said. “Mr. Johnson, who did have prior criminal records, was granted eligibility for parole after 20 years.”

Kinney apologized to all.

“I would like to apologize to the McGarry family for all the hurt and pain that I put you through. I never meant for any of this to happen, and I wish I could take it all back. I know all the apologies in the world could never bring him back, but I want you to know I truly am sorry.”

Fregiato said the circumstances of the case demand the maximum penalty. He referred to a portion of Allar’s interview with Kinney, in which Allar said the crime could be perceived as the work of “a cold, calculated assassin,” and that Kinney claimed to have a close friendship and relationship with McGarry.

“If this man was able to do an assassin’s job to someone he loved and his best friend, what could he do to his enemy or someone who opposed him?” Fregiato said.

In addition, Fregiato asked that the state look into compensation from Kinney for the expenses incurred by the defense’s forensic testimony.

Bellaire Police Chief Michael Kovalyk commented afterward. He thanked the sheriff’s office, other law enforcement agencies and investigators, and Belmont County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan for their work on the case.

“I think the sentencing is appropriate,” Kovalyk said. “Justice was done in this case.”

Kovalyk added that the weapon used in the shooting has not been found, and that Kinney had said the weapon was a .22-caliber pistol that he discarded along Ohio 7 near Bellaire.

“We can’t be sure that that’s the case, as many times as he tried to deceive everyone during the investigation,” Kovalyk said. “We’re hopeful that somebody comes forward and tells us where the weapon may be so that we can recover it.”

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