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Testimony from law enforcement continues in driveway shooting trial

The Washington County Courthouse
Aaron Shellow-Lavine
The Washington County Courthouse

The second week of the trial of Kevin Monahan, who is accused of killing Kaylin Gillis by shooting at a car in his driveway last year, continued Tuesday with more testimony from responding law enforcement officers.

Monahan, 66, is facing second-degree murder, reckless endangerment in the 1st degree, and tampering with evidence charges. Prosecutors allege he shot at several vehicles that entered the driveway of his Hebron home on the night of April 15th, killing the 20-year-old Schuylerville woman. Monahan’s attorneys argue that he fired one shot in self-defense, and the second fatal shot was due to a malfunction of his gun. 

Monahan’s wife wrapped up her testimony last week, describing the events of the night leading to Kevin Monahan’s decision to take to his porch armed with a shotgun.

1st Assistant District Attorney Chris Morris also called multiple first responders to the stand Friday to testify on the care they gave to Gillis in her final moments. Morris displayed graphic images of Gillis’ body, and questioned paramedics on what protocols they followed leading to pronouncing her death. 

Also called to the stand was Washington County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Corbet Sullivan, who began to outline the interactions between law enforcement and Monahan that night. 

Officers repeatedly asked Monahan to come down from his house to speak to them, but he refused. At one point two officers started walking up to Monahan's porch but quickly retreated to the perimeter of the property when he went back inside and shut his door. 

Mark Nelson with the Granville Police Department was the officer on scene who secured the perimeter. He was also the one who told the 911 operator to tell Monahan that the police were at his home over a noise complaint, not a shooting.

Cambridge Police Officer Jason Nussbaum told Defense Attorney Art Frost that neither he nor any other officer he heard read Monahan his Miranda Rights.

Jurors also heard from three of Monahan's neighbors, who all described an otherwise peaceful night broken up by two loud pops and a caravan of vehicles rushing down the Monahans’ driveway. 

Morris called Washington County Sheriff Sergeant Christopher Murray to testify on the law enforcement procedures that led to Monahan’s arrest.

Jurors were shown body-cam footage in which Monahan and his wife are heard talking back and forth with the responding officers. Frost moved for a mistrial because in the footage, Monahan can be heard talking about contacting his lawyer.

Judge Adam Michelini denied the motion and instead gave instructions to jurors to disregard the comment from Monahan about his lawyer and to not make any unfavorable inferences about the defendant since people have a right to ask for counsel when police are at their homes. 

On cross examination, Frost asked Sergeant Murray about precautions responding officers took when interacting with Monahan. Officers yelled up to Monahan to come down from his porch to talk to them, which he refused to do and instead suggested they come up. 

Murray testified that officers waited to approach Monahan on his porch until Undersheriff John Winchell showed up due to potential safety risks. At no point did any officers on scene communicate that to Monahan.

Morris continued to call various law enforcement officers to the stand, including Washington County Sheriff’s Department Senior Investigator Harold Spiezio. Spiezio assisted in the search for expended shotgun shells on and around the Monahan property.

No shells were found, and on cross examination Spiezio told Frost that he did not search the garage or trailer on the property, nor did he have any evidence that anyone had left the Monahan’s residence between the time of the initial 911 call by Gillis’ friends and police arriving at the Patterson Hill Road home.

Two other investigators took the stand to outline the evidence preservation processes taken during the transportation of evidence, including the shotgun the defense claims is faulty.

Also called to testify was New York State Trooper Kolby Gabler, who photographed the scene of Gillis’s death as well as Monahan’s home.

Images of Gillis’ body covered with a tarp were shown to jurors. Pictures from within the car showed the shot that killed Gillis was fired after the car had already turned to go back down the driveway.

Gabler’s photographs of the Monahan’s driveway and home began to paint a picture of the search of Monahan’s home, including identifying the shotgun used by Monahan the night of the 15th and the revolver his wife took with her when she hid in their closet. A juror was dismissed Tuesday due to illness.