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Man gets 25 years to life in prison for fatally shooting woman who mistakenly drove into his driveway

The man who shot and killed a young woman when she and her friends accidentally took a wrong turn and drove up his upstate New York driveway has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for her murder.

Kevin Monahan, 66, was found guilty in January of the second-degree murder of Kaylin Gillis, 20, in April 2023.

At a sentencing hearing in Washington County on Friday morning, Judge Adam Michelini handed down his sentence, telling Monahan that he had taken away “so much unrealised potential” and voicing fears that, if Monahan is released from prison, he could kill again.

As the sentence was read out, there were audible cries in the courtroom.

Before the sentence was handed down, Gillis’ friends and family members gave victim impact statements in the courtroom, saying how their lives would be forever changed by the events of that night.

“She had a contagious smile that could light up a room and a heart that overflowed with kindness and love,” Gillis’ father, Andrew Gillis told the court.

“She was our pride, our joy and we loved her with all of our heart.

“Losing her has left us with an undeniable void in our life – one that can never be filled. Every day, we wake up to the harsh reality that she is no longer here.”

Gillis’ boyfriend Blake Walsh, who was 19 at the time and was driving their vehicle that day, has previously said his life has been “destroyed” by her death.

On Friday, he spoke directly to his girlfriend’s killer in the courtroom.

Kaylin Gillis was shot and killed in upstate New York (GoFundMe)
Kaylin Gillis was shot and killed in upstate New York (GoFundMe)

“You took the life of someone who never was a threat to you, not for a second,” he said.

“Kaylin was a sweet and loving soul. Everything you wished you could be,” he continued. “If it were my decision, you’d be under the jail.”

On 15 April 2023, Gillis was travelling in a car with three friends when they made a wrong turn looking for a friend’s house in Hebron, New York. Instead they accidentally turned up Monahan’s driveway.

They realised they had made a mistake and were turning around when Monahan came out of his house and opened fire, hitting Gillis in the process.

First responders responded to the scene, but the young woman was pronounced dead.

Police tried to engage with Monahan, but he was uncooperative and refused to come out of his home to speak to officers. After a stand-off lasting several hours, they were able to take him into custody.

Prosecutors described Monahan as “merciless” in his actions and urged the judge to show no mercy in sentencing.

“You can’t murder someone because they accidentally pulled into your driveway,” Assistant District Attorney Chris Morris said.

Kevin Monahan seen in court in January 2024 (© 2024 Will Waldron / Times Union)
Kevin Monahan seen in court in January 2024 (© 2024 Will Waldron / Times Union)

“When I look at the comments on some of these articles that are written and videos that are played, it is shocking to me how many people believe you can just shoot people on your driveway. So the sentence here today affects everybody.”

Monahan’s defence attorney Kurt Gerard Mausert had argued that the shooting was an accident as a result of a faulty firearm, but this claim was dismissed at trial.

On Friday, Mr Mausert said he understood the victim’s family’s pain and understood their desire for vengeance, after saying how he loved how his client loved his wife and that was why he was representing him.

“I’ve seen his remorse. He lives with the fact of knowing that because of his actions, under any way you view them, this poor young woman is dead,” Mr Mausert said. “So I don’t come here to ask you for mercy, I ask you to rebuff vengeance, I ask you to do what is just.”

The attorney said he would not ask the judge for a particular sentence.

However, Judge Michelini did not appear to agree with the defence’s point of view, echoing the prosecution’s statement that it was “not okay” to shoot someone who accidentally drives down your driveway.

“Mr Monahan, I think that if you were released from prison, and people who commit murder generally don’t commit the same crime again, but with you, I think you really could do the same thing again,” Judge Michelini said. “It’s obvious to me that you feel justified, you don’t take any responsibility for the outcome of your actions.”

He also admonished Monahan for saying he wanted to go free so he could finish work on his house and race motorocross, telling him he doesn’t deserve that but instead deserves a lengthy prison sentence.

Speaking after the guilty verdict in January, District Attorney Tony Jordan said he hoped Ms Gillis’ family could begin to find closure.

“We wanted them to know that we believed in what they were saying. That there’s a purpose and that there will be justice. And our hope is today that they can begin to find that little bit of faith and justice that they can begin to move forward, to heal,” he said.

“Because, this is not the end for them, and they have a long road ahead of them and we’re hopeful that this is a part of it.”