FORT EDWARD, N.Y. (WTEN) — A jury has found a New York man guilty of fatally shooting a woman who was riding in a car that mistakenly turned around in his driveway last year.
Kevin Monahan, 66, was found guilty of second-degree murder, reckless endangerment in the first degree, and tampering with physical evidence by a jury Tuesday.
In April 2023, Kaylin Gillis, 20, and a group of friends were driving in Hebron, New York, some 40 miles north of Albany, when they drove into Monahan’s driveway mistakenly.
The group’s caravan of two cars and a motorcycle turned around once they realized their mistake. But authorities allege Monahan came out on his porch and fired two shots from a shotgun, striking Gillis with the second shot.
Gillis’ death drew attention far beyond the rural town in upstate New York. The killing happened just days after the shooting of 16-year-old Ralph Yarl in Kansas City. Yarl, who is Black, was wounded by an 84-year-old white man after he went to the wrong door while trying to pick up his brother.
Monahan’s defense attorney, Arthur Frost, has said Monahan was scared by the group of strangers arriving late at night at the remote home he shared with his wife. Frost told the jury last week the shooting was a “terrible accident” involving a defective gun.
Monahan testified that he tripped on a nail on his deck, and the gun fell to the ground, causing it to fire.
“I didn’t mean to shoot the second shot,” Monahan testified last week. “The gun went off.”
Frost argued that testing done on the gun, which included drop tests to reenact the shooting, wasn’t accurate since it was done on a rubber mat and not a hard surface like Monahan’s deck.
Meanwhile, Assistant District Attorney Christian Morris focused on the timeline of events that night.
“When those kids were up there, that gunshot was fired within 20 seconds of the lights coming on. Twenty seconds means the lights are turned on at the door. Within 20 seconds, Monahan had walked out of his door to the northeast corner, looked down at the car, and fired the first shot, which is totally contrary to what he said on the stand.”
Blake Walsh, Gillis’ boyfriend, and a handful of his friends testified that they were headed to a party at another house in the area and mistakenly turned into Monahan’s long, snaking driveway. The house had no lights on when they pulled up.
“We were trying to figure out where we are,” said Jacob Haynes, who was in the back seat. “We knew we were not at the right house.”
The house lights turned on about the time the two vehicles made a three-point turn to leave. Walsh said he heard a loud noise as he was backing up and one of his two friends in the back seat of the SUV said someone was shooting a gun. That’s when the panic started.
Alexandra Whiting, who also was in the back seat, said she saw through the rear window a man holding a gun on the porch.
Walsh said he heard a sound like metal breaking in the car upon the second shot. He said he ducked as he drove away. He asked if his friends were OK. Whiting and Haynes were, but Gillis was slumped toward the door and unresponsive.
The friends saw by phone flashlight that Gillis was wounded. During his testimony, Walsh choked up as he recalled pulling up next to the Jeep driven by his friend Katherine Rondeau to tell her about Gillis.
“He said ‘Kaylin’s been shot. We need to get to a hospital,’” said Maxwell Barney, who was also in the Jeep.
Gillis’ friends called for help once they found cellphone signal several miles away. Meanwhile, Haynes kept his hand on Gillis’ neck wound to stop the bleeding. A dispatcher guided the friends through CPR while they waited for help to arrive. But emergency workers were unable to save her.
Some of the friends had consumed alcohol or marijuana earlier that evening, according to testimony.
Rondeau told the jury that she was leading the group of friends to what she thought was the house of a friend hosting the party.
“I thought I knew where I was going,” Rondeau said, beginning to cry.
The jury went into deliberation just before 2 p.m. The verdict was announced at around 4:30 p.m.
Monahan was remanded without bail with a sentencing hearing scheduled for March 1.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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