New evidence in death case may point to murder, arson

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - New details have been revealed in the case of a Henrico woman who was found dead in a New Year's Eve apartment fire.

Authorities have released court documents giving new insight into the death of Keiona Braxton.

An affidavit says firefighters found Braxton face down on the floor of her apartment with obvious signs of trauma to her body that were not related to the fire.

NBC12 Legal Analyst Steven Benjamin says the implications in the court documents are clear.

"The affidavit indicates that they are looking for evidence of the possible commission of a murder," Benjamin said. "I don't know from reading this whether there's a belief that she was shot or stabbed, or both."

The search warrant lists a number of possible weapons recovered from Braxton's scorched apartment, including knives, firearms, ammunition and bullet casings. The affidavit says firefighters observed "what appears to be blood on the floor."

Firefighters also say when they entered the apartment, they found all the stove burners in the kitchen had been turned on. Investigators recovered "evidence of the offense of arson."

"The most difficult part in arson cases is determining whether the cause of the fire was accidental or intentional," Benjamin said. "One of the things they were looking for was the presence of any accelerants."

Police are holding a "person of interest" in the case. Kayla Armstrong allegedly assaulted Braxton just days before her death.

"This kind of background is enough to make the police investigate that person as a possible criminal agent, but it certainly does not mean that they are guilty of these crimes," Benjamin said. "It's simply a lead that the police will follow up on.

Investigators will know more about how Braxton died once the medical examiner completes an autopsy.

NBC12 expects that report in the next couple of days and will bring you more details as we get them into our newsroom.

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