An Alexandria man has been found guilty of using a firearm in a murder — but not guilty of the murder.
The unusual verdict came after a trial in which Brian Bolar argued that it was actually his uncle James Bolar who killed Leon Williams on Oct. 7, 2015. James Bolar, meanwhile, testified against his nephew, while admitting that he helped try to cover up the crime.
The killing occurred late in the evening on Belle Pre Way in the Old Town North neighborhood. A surveillance video from the Lost Dog Cafe, played at the trial, showed Williams running down the street just before he was shot several times in the back. The 37-year-old father of two died at a hospital.
According to court documents, both Bolars were unhappy with Williams, who was romantically involved with one of their female relatives. But defense attorney Robert Jenkins said it was James Bolar who had previously gotten into a violent altercation with one of Williams’s friends.
Records showed that Brian Bolar’s cellphone was in the area, but Jenkins said the defendant had lent his uncle the phone. A witness identified Brian Bolar as the shooter; Jenkins said the witness was drunk at the time and unreliable. Another co-conspirator who claimed that Brian Bolar was the shooter Jenkins likewise labeled unreliable.
On the charge of first-degree murder, the jury was instructed to choose between two verdicts: guilty and not guilty. There were no instructions regarding second-degree murder or manslaughter. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty of first-degree murder but guilty on the charge of use of a firearm in a murder.
The statutory minimum punishment for use of a firearm in a murder is three years. But Brian Bolar also faces two charges of possessing a handgun as a convicted felon, and he is on probation from a previous conviction. All those issues will be dealt with at his sentencing March 2.