Full jury picked in driveway shooting trial

Full jury picked in driveway shooting trial

A group of 12 jurors and four alternates have been picked in trial of Kevin Monahan.

FORT EDWARD – A group of 12 jurors and four alternates have been picked in trial of Kevin Monahan.

Monahan, 66, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Kaylin Gillis, 20, of Schuylerville, who was a passenger in a vehicle that had mistakenly turned up Monahan’s Hebron driveway.  

A group of nine men and three women and the main jurors. Three women and one man will serve as alternate jurors.

The proceedings wrapped up at about 4 p.m. The jurors were culled from two pools of 21 people each, which were randomly selected and then were interviewed.

Just before noon, an initial batch of 21 prospective jurors were drawn at random to be questioned. 

First, Judge Adam Michelini asked each one to provide some biographical information such as education, work history, family and hobbies. Then, First Assistant District Attorney Christian Morris and Arthur Frost, the lead defense counsel in the case, each had 20 minutes to ask questions of the prospective jurors. The questions offered some insight into how they are going to make their case.  

After hearing that a few prospective jurors liked doing puzzles, Morris used the analogy about whether they could create a clear picture of the image of the puzzle if four pieces were missing.  

One prospective juror said they would need all the puzzle pieces.  

“As a murder trial, you would like to get as close to absolute certainty as you could,” he said.  

Another woman also said they were not comfortable with missing pieces.

Others said they would have enough of the image even if a few pieces were missing.

Morris said the law requires him to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt. He also discussed the fact that there was no video of the crime.  

“Without that, we have to rely on witnesses to tell you what they saw, what they heard, but they might not tell you every last piece of the puzzle,” he said.  

Another prospective juror said they would have a hard time keeping an open mind based upon what he has heard so far about the incident.  

“I’m a gun guy, and I don’t believe accidents happen with guns,” he said.  

When it was his turn to speak, Frost asked each juror what was the most important thing to them. They all said family and some said family and their animals.  

“Can we all agree, family?” Frost said. “When I first met Kevin, I was a little concerned about the case because a 20-year-old girl is dead and he’s accused of killing her. As a father, I had some very strong feelings about that.” 

He asked if anybody else had strong feelings about this.  

A juror said that “I don’t believe accidents happen with guns. I don’t believe you should own one if you can’t properly use one. I don’t know the full story.”  

He asked everyone to promise that they would wait and see until the evidence is presented.   

Then, Frost asked: “I wonder if anyone knows what it’s like to be truly afraid. When I was 12, my brother …,” he said before Morris asked to approach the bench.  

After a brief discussion, Frost picked up with just asking about what it feels like to be afraid. Some person said they had abusive family member. Somebody said they grew up in Brooklyn New York, which elicited a laugh. Somebody said they had a health scare.  

Then, he asked how people feel about guns.  

“Some people think nobody but the police or military should have guns,” Frost said. “There are other people who think anybody should have a gun maybe with some exceptions like if you’re mentally ill or you’re an abuser.”  

Frost moved to one side in front of the jury box for the pro-gun position and to the other side for the more restrictive access to gun position.  

One juror said people should have to be proven worthy to have a gun. He said he had to go through a background check. Another person said they leaned to being more restrictive with guns.  

Monahan was dressed in a suit and was holding a yellow legal pad and pen. He did not appear to take any notes so far, but sometimes was tapping the pen.  

Frost concluded his comments by asking the initial group of prospective jurors to take a look at his client. 

“As he sits here right now, can every one of you, for whatever you heard, still presume innocence,” he asked.  

One juror said he believes that when they point a gun at somebody, they have intent.  

He could have fired it in the air. I don’t have all the facts. I don’t have all the puzzle pieces. I am struggling with it a little bit.”  

Frost asked everyone to commit to hearing the facts.  

“Can every one of you here promise Kevin, promise all of us that even if you think he did it … but Mr. Morris didn’t remove all reasonable doubt, can you say ‘not guilty,’” he said.  

After a lunch break, they selected another 21 names and asked similar questions to the previous group. 

Frost brought up a new issue regarding self-defense.  

“Can you envision a scenario where you would be willing to use force against someone?” he asked to the group.  

One of the prospective jurors responded that they would be willing to use force if someone was breaking into their house. Others agreed that they would use force to protect their family.  

One person said the level of force should depend on the threat.  

Another new point Frost brought up to the second group was how they would prove that they didn’t do something, for example if he claimed that one of the jurors dinged the other’s car in the parking lot.  

Jurors said they would rely on physical evidence and witness testimony.        

There was also a lengthy exchange regarding if jurors’ opinions would be affected one way or the other if Monahan didn’t take the stand in his own defense.  

Most said they wouldn’t hold it against them. A couple prospective jurors said those would have some influence in their thinking.   

“I would be less knowledgeable about what happened, so it would be harder to make a good decision,” one potential juror said.  

Judge Michelini reminded that if Monahan does not testify, that is not something they could use against him.  

Two jurors were dismissed for cause for this very reason after the final cuts were made.  

Among the careers represented by jurors are automotive salesman, utility worker, power company employee, delivery driver, semiretired registered nurse, school district behavioral specialist and teacher.

Most of the jurors have children, many of who are adults.

Opening arguments are scheduled to begin Thursday morning. NewsChannel 13 will be there and have updates on WNYT.com and our newscasts.