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Monahan gives emotional testimony in driveway shooting trial

Andrew B. Gillis, right, father of slain daughter, Kaylin Gillis, is consoled outside the courtroom after a verdict was reached in the murder trial of Kevin Monahan on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, at Washington County Courthouse in Fort Edward, N.Y. A Washington County jury deliberated for just two hours before finding Kevin Monahan guilty of murder in the second degree in the driveway shooting death of 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis outside his rural Hebron home. The 66-year-old faces 25 years to life in state prison. (Will Waldron/Times Union)
Will Waldron/Times Union
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Hearst Newspapers
Andrew B. Gillis, right, father of slain daughter, Kaylin Gillis, is consoled outside the courtroom after a verdict was reached in the murder trial of Kevin Monahan on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, at Washington County Courthouse in Fort Edward, N.Y. A Washington County jury deliberated for just two hours before finding Kevin Monahan guilty of murder in the second degree in the driveway shooting death of 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis outside his rural Hebron home. The 66-year-old faces 25 years to life in state prison. (Will Waldron/Times Union)

Kevin Monahan, who is accused of killing Kaylin Gillis by shooting at a car in his driveway last year, testified on the ninth day of his trial.

Monahan took the stand after the prosecution rested its case. Defense attorney Art Frost unsuccessfully moved to have Judge Adam Michelini dismiss the second degree murder, reckless endangerment, and tampering with evidence charges before calling his client to the stand.

Monahan told Frost he was aware of several break-ins over the decades he lived on Patterson Hill Road, and cried as he testified that he and his wife feared being the targets of one on the night of April 15th.

The 66-year-old also contended that the second, fatal shot was entirely accidental, as a past wrist injury prevents him from handling the 20-gauge shotgun with his finger on the trigger. He said it happened when he tripped over nails protruding from his deck.

Prosecutor Chris Morris asked Monahan during what he intended by firing the first shot. Monahan said he had hoped it would begin some sort of dialogue and get the vehicles off his property, although he never made any move to speak to anyone in the two cars or motorcycle in his driveway. Gillis, who was 20, died moments later.

Monahan testified that he went out onto his porch with his shotgun and observed the two cars that were in his driveway, noting that none of them tried to communicate with him. He fired a warning shot into the air with his back turned to the caravan to try and avoid escalation.

Monahan said people had previously driven up and asked for directions or explained that they were lost, but that he did not communicate at all with the young people in his driveway the night of Gillis’ death.

Frost asked Monahan “point-blank” if he pulled the trigger to fire the shot that killed Gillis. Monahan responded that he did not.

Monahan broke down when Frost asked him how he felt about having hurt Gillis. Monahan said his emotions were “indescribable,” saying [quote]“I don’t even know how to respond. I just feel like my soul is dead, that there’s just a hole in me, that I took somebody else’s life. Just horrible.”

For his part, Morris pressed Monahan on several details.

Earlier testimony centered around Monahan telling law enforcement that the noise complaint could have been caused by hunters in the woods behind his rural home, but on Friday Monahan admitted that he lied to law enforcement when asked if anything had occurred at his residence.

Monahan said that during the 18-minute long call he had with a 911 operator once police arrived at his home, he never mentioned the potential home invasion.

Much of the defense’s strategy has revolved around the lack of clear communication between Monahan and Gillis’s friends as well as law enforcement. Monahan said he was unaware that anyone had been hurt, but did not think it was necessary to call the police over what he and his wife thought could have been a “siege” of his home.