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Grand jury to consider whether Fessler should face murder charges on November 8 killings in Alexandria

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

District Judge Cameron Blau determined Thursday that there is probable cause for a grand jury to determine if Richard Fessler should face trial on two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

Fessler, 18, is charged with killing Brian Cornelius, 41, and a 14-year-old male on November 8, on Cottonwood Court in Alexandria.

Richard Fessler, 18, leaves a Campbell County District Courtroom Thursday after it was determined there is enough evidence for a grand jury to consider whether he should stand trial on two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. Fessler is accused of killing Brian Cornelius, 41, and a 14-year-old male on Cottonwood Court in Alexandria on November 8. He is also charged with shooting and wounding Derek Johnson that day (photo by Mark Hansel).

He is also charged with shooting and wounding 37-year-old Derek Johnson that same day. Johnson was taken to UC Medical Center in Cincinnati after he was shot, and is expected to survive.

A clear motive has not been identified, but Campbell County Commonwealth’s Attorney Michelle Snodgrass, who is prosecuting the case, questioned Alexandria Police Det. James Brown about the shootings.

He provided some key details about events from that day.

Brown said the initial response was to a report of a subject in a vehicle that had been shot.

Upon arriving at the scene,Brown spoke with Johnson, who had been shot.

“He advised that he was shot by Richard Fessler and he advised that there were other subjects at 6 North Cottonwood Court that were also involved,” Brown said.

Upon arriving at the North Cottonwood Court address, officers encountered a young child in the residence. The child said he had seen two subjects at the end of the hallway.

While examining the interior of the home, Brown said that in a bedroom to the left, an older male subject later identified as Brian Cornelius, was discovered deceased.

He said an autopsy later confirmed that Cornelius died from a gunshot wound to the back of the neck area that severed his spinal cord. Death was believed to be instantaneous.

The 14-year-old victim was located in a bedroom to the right of the hallway. He had suffered gunshot wounds to the neck and to the left cheek area, and was also deceased.

Investigators obtained a search warrant and began to look through the house.

“In the residence, the evidence team collected shell casings…collectible guns, a safe,” Brown said. “It had been drilled and broken into.”

Witnesses later told detectives the safe usually contained guns.

As Johnson was being assisted by a Good Samaritan following the shooting, he identified a black Ford that drove by as the vehicle containing the person who shot him.

Police located the vehicle approximately two blocks from the crime scene, abandoned, with a door ajar.

Brown said a search of that vehicle uncovered a long rifle with a full magazine and a round in the chamber, a cell phone and a rag.

Police located Fessler at approximately 1 a.m. the following morning using K-9s.


Det. Brown said Fessler had been in contact with his girlfriend after the shooting and he spoke with her about the incident on North Cottonwood Court.

“He called her and advised her that he had done something very bad,” Det. Brown said.

She also told Brown Fessler sent her a picture, through Snapchat, of multiple guns.

Fessler was represented by Eva Hager, a public defender.

She asked Brown if he was able to determine whether the shell casings recovered were from more than one gun.

Snodgrass objected, saying that was beyond the scope of Brown’s expertise.

Judge Blau allowed Brown to testify to what he observed and the detective said the casings he saw in one area of the crime scene appeared to be of the same type.

Brown testified that Fessler’s girlfriend said he told her that he had used multiple guns.

Brown said during an interview with investigators, Johnson said he heard “quite a few shots.”

Snodgrass asked Brown if based on statements obtained and examination of the crime scene, he came to the conclusion that Fessler shot and killed Cornelius and the 14-year-old victim, and wounded Johnson.

Brown said he had.

Fessler remains in the Campbell County Detention Center on a $1 million bond. If indicted and convicted, he faces punishment of up to life in prison.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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One Comment

  1. Robert Harrington says:

    Seems like its a clear case of robbery he should be charged with first degree murder death penalty should be on the table

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