What to Know
- Brian Kennedy faces murder charges of killing his ex-wife inside a Delaware County Wawa store during a scheduled custody exchange.
- Police say he gunned down Stephanie Miller with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle as other people shopped at the store.
- Heavy security marked Kennedy's first court hearing Thursday.
Heavy security marked the first appearance for a father accused of gunning down his ex-wife amid the ruse of a custody exchange at a Delaware County Wawa earlier this year.
Police surrounded Brian Kennedy and kept the press and onlookers at a distance as they walked the 34-year-old into the District Court in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, Thursday morning. Kennedy, his hands shackled and wearing a bright red jumpsuit, said nothing as he walked inside.
The courtroom was cleared, and everyone was security wanded ahead of the preliminary hearing.
Once inside the court, the judge ordered Kennedy held on criminal homicide, first- and third-degree murder, reckless endangerment and a weapons charge in relation to the March 28 killing of Stephanie Miller in Radnor Township.
The only witness to take the stand Thursday was a high school senior who was working at the Wawa the night of the killing. The teen described seeing a man with a gun walking in looking “angry and determined.” The man then went around the counter and toward the coffee station where Miller stood and fired five to six shots.
The teen described ducking behind the counter and not seeing the shooter leave. When he rose up and called 911 he found Miller motionless on the ground with “bullet holes in her head.”
During his testimony, the teen pointed out Kennedy as the armed man he saw in the store.
After the brief hearing, Kennedy was taken back to the county jail where he is being held without bail. He is set to be arraigned on May 23.
Following Kennedy's arrest, Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland said he used an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to kill his 37-year-old ex-wife.
"With an ArmaLite 15, he brutally murdered the mother of his child in a public place in cold blood, placing numerous others at risk. He then cowardly fled the area," Copeland said.
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In 2016, Kennedy was arrested by Radnor Township Police after threatening to kill Miller at the same Wawa store in which the fatal shooting took place, a criminal complaint said.
Miller had previously been granted a protective order against her ex-husband, but it expired in September of last year, the district attorney said. Kennedy was scheduled to exchange the couple's child at the store, but he apparently arrived alone, Copeland said.
A witness flagged down a Radnor Township Police officer around 8:20 p.m. on March 28 to report shots fired inside the Wawa on 151 Sugartown Road. At the same time, police received multiple calls reporting a woman had been shot at least twice inside the store by a man armed with a rifle.
Officers entered the store and found Miller's body.
"This is a classic case of what can happen in situations regarding domestic abuse and violence and the use of firearms," Copeland said.
Several witnesses were inside the store at the time of the shooting. They told police a gunman in black clothing ran out of the store and fled the scene in a black BMW.
Multiple agencies searched for Kennedy and the road was closed off near the scene of the shooting. A SWAT Team and Pennsylvania State Police troopers eventually found him in Thornbury Park in Glen Mills, investigators said.
He was taken to the hospital for what police determined to be a drug overdose, according to the criminal complaint.
Following Miller's death, her boyfriend Michael D'Arco remembered the joy she gave others.
"She was a selfless person that was the happiest soul that you could imagine," a heartbroken D'Arco told NBC10 last month. "Regardless of all the adversity in her day to day."