Kevin Monahan was found guilty of second-degree murder Tuesday for shooting and killing a woman who was a passenger in a car that mistakenly drove up his driveway in rural New York last year, according to Katherine Thompson, deputy chief clerk of Washington County Supreme and County Courts.
Monahan had pleaded not guilty to charges of murder in the second degree, reckless endangerment and tampering with physical evidence in the death of 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis on April 15, 2023. He was convicted of all charges after about two hours of deliberations.
Monahan shot at the vehicle when it accidentally turned into his driveway while the occupants looked for a friend’s house in Washington County, roughly 55 miles north of Albany. Gillis died a short time after the shooting.
District Attorney Tony Jordan will seek a maximum sentence of 25 years to life when Monahan is sentenced on March 1.
Prosecutors argued that the 66-year-old defendant acted recklessly when the teens used his driveway to turn their vehicles. The defense said what happened was a terrible accident.
Defense attorney Kurt Mausert said his client was disappointed by the verdict. Mausert told CNN the trial was “ripe with appellate issues” and he planned an appeal.
“He truly believes what happened was an accident. That he stumbled and he fell and the shotgun went off by accident,” Mausert said of his client.
“You got a beautiful 20-year-old girl, who, of no fault of her own, is dead. There’s no way to look at this case other than a horrible tragedy. But an accident has been turned into depraved indifference and that’s a tragedy also,” Mausert said.
Jordan said he hopes the guilty verdict means the families of Gillis and the others who were in the car “can have continued hope that there is justice and have something to hold onto as they move into their next chapter of recovery.”
“For us, our hope was to let people know that justice is possible,” Jordan told CNN. “There were neighbors who stepped up and heard something and reported it. Our hope is people can have faith in the system.”
Monahan took the stand at his trial last week, testifying that he felt like he and his wife were under siege that day and that he only wanted to protect his wife, Spectrum News 1 reported.
Monahan told jurors that he and his wife were awakened by three vehicles in his driveway: two SUVs and a motorcycle revving its engine, the station reported. He testified that he told his wife to hide in their closet and he loaded his 20-gauge pump-action shotgun before going outside.
Monahan testified that he thought about past criminal activity in the area and fired a warning shot into the air. The vehicles began to leave slowly, he testified, and he lost his balance on some nails on his deck when the second fatal shot was fired, Spectrum News 1 reported.
Under cross-examination, Monahan was not able to point out in a photograph the nails that caused him to lose his balance. He was emotional when asked how Gillis’ death made him feel, telling the jury that his “soul is dead,” the station reported.
Gillis was fatally shot just days after a Black teenager in Kansas City was shot twice by a White homeowner after going to the wrong address to pick up his siblings.
In the New York shooting, both Monahan and Gillis are White.
After the shots were fired, Gillis and the rest of the group drove away from the house, looking for cell phone service and then called 911.
They were found around 5 miles away from the home in the town of Salem. First responders began administering CPR but Gillis was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police officers went to Monahan’s home in Hebron and found him to be uncooperative, the Washington County sheriff told reporters at the time.
Gillis’ family issued a statement at the time praising her as a “kind, beautiful soul and a ray of light to anyone who was lucky enough to know her.”
“She was a big sister, much loved daughter, devoted friend and partner to her loving boyfriend. She was just beginning to find her way in the world with kindness, humor, and love,” the family said. “Kaylin was a talented artist, an honor student, a Disney fanatic and loved animals. She was looking forward to starting college in Florida to pursue her dream of becoming a marine biologist.”
Gillis graduated from Schuylerville High School in 2021 and held the position of “flyer” on the cheerleading team.
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