Monahan on stand: ‘My soul is dead’; Closing arguments Monday
FORT EDWARD – Kevin Monahan took the stand as the defense’s only witness in the driveway shooting trial. Monahan, who is accused of killing Kaylin Gillis, said he feels his “soul is dead” knowing that he took someone’s life.
Monahan, 66, has been charged with second-degree murder, reckless endangerment and tampering with physical evidence in the death of Kaylin Gillis.
Gillis and a group of her friends got lost and turned around in Monahan’s driveway in Hebron, last April.
Fighting back tears, Monahan recounted what he said happened that night.
He was watching a movie with his wife, he said, which is something they often do to fall asleep.
It was a warm, spring night. He had the windows open, he said, and was woken up by the sounds of the vehicles in his driveway – a car and motorcycle.
“He’s really revving his bike, and he stopped. I’m nervous. Really nervous. Because at this point the cars have my driveway blocked, and he’s trying to wave them up to the house,” Monahan testified. “He says nothing. No one gets out of their cars.”
“I go upstairs. I had already told my wife at that point to get dressed. She had gotten dressed and after that she put her bathrobe over her clothes. I told her to get in the closet. I’ll get your .22 revolver and some ammunition. I told her to stay in the closet,” Monahan said.
Monahan testified that he fired the first shot as a warning. A short time later, he said he slipped on nails protruding from his deck while he was walking along his porch. Monahan said he struck the railing and the gun discharged. He did not pull the trigger.
Defense attorney Arthur Frost asked if he fired the gun on purpose.
“No,” Monahan responded.
Frost said he now knows that the second shot fatally struck and killed Gillis.
“How does that make you feel?” Frost asked.
“Horrible. I can’t. I can’t. It’s indescribable,” Monahan said, shaking his head.
“I don’t even know how to respond … I just feel like my soul is dead. It’s just a hole in me. I took somebody else’s life. It’s just horrible.”
Monahan was asked by the defense team why he didn’t call 911.
“I couldn’t find my phone. I didn’t want to take any more time to search for it,” Monahan said, adding he figured the response time was so slow that by the time any police responded, anything that happened would be over.
Prosecutors cross-examined Monahan after a brief recess.
First Assistant District Attorney Christian Morris attempted to pick apart aspects of his defense, starting with the fact that he said he was startled by the loud motorcycle revving.
Monahan has raced motorcycles competitively into his 60s and has participated in road races and off-road races.
Monahan said he was woken up to the sound of a motorcycle, which was revving its engine real high. That caused him to sit up in his bed.
He saw vehicle lights coming down Patterson Hill Road. He sat up and got dressed. He had blue shorts on already and was wearing a red T-shirt and black beach sandals.
Monahan said he saw the motorcycle coming up the driveway past the house.
He woke up his wife and told her to get dressed.
“We have company. We have somebody here,” he said.
He then went downstairs to try to find his cell phone, he didn’t find it. He then put the flood lights on to illuminate the exterior and interior of the house. He told his wife to get into the closet.
Monahan said he stepped out on to the porch and saw the vehicles parked side by side.
Monahan said he heard the motorcyclist revving his engine intermittently.
When he stepped out on the porch, Morris asked Monahan if the motorcyclist yelled, flipped him off or acknowledged his presence in any way. Monahan said he does not know if he saw him.
“You didn’t yell. ‘Hey what are you doing?’” Morris asked.
“No,” Monahan responded.
“‘Hey are you lost?’” Morris asked.
“No,” said Monahan.
“‘Why are you here?’” Morris asked.
Monahan said he positioned himself at a corner of his deck and watched the motorcyclist accelerate back down the driveway.
He then said that said that the occupants in the other vehicles left after 20 to 30 seconds of back-and-forth conversations.
At this point, Monahan said he does a half turn, makes sure he is under the roof line and fires a warning shot into the air.
“You would agree that the warning they were given was for them to leave?” Morris asked.
“Correct,” Monahan stated. “It was: ‘I have a real gun. It’s loaded. It’s operable.’”
Morris stated that the goal of firing a warning shot is to get people to do something or not do something.
Monahan said he was looking for a reaction. He wanted them to leave.
“The warning shot to me is almost like starting a dialogue, I guess. Try to initiate an action,” he said.
“You were trying to initiate an action to people in your driveway that you could initiate a deadly action against them?” Morris asked.
“That wasn’t my intent,” he said.
Monahan said he heard someone say, “I think someone’s shooting at us.”
When asked why he didn’t yell or say anything to the people in the vehicle, Monahan said “I thought if I said anything, I would intentionally make the situation worse.”
“Firing a firearm escalates situations. You would agree with that?” Morris said.
“I kind of think it depends on your perspective – which side of the equation you’re on,” Monahan said.
Then, Morris asked him about the sequence that led to firing the second fatal shot, where Monahan said he stumbled.
He described pointing the gun downward and looking at the taillghts of the vehicle. Then, he starts to walk along the railing of the deck, pointing his gun down with the barrel over the railing. He stumbles by the third post and the gun fires.
He thought the slug went maybe in his backyard.
Morris then asked Monahan what he spoke to his wife about when they were sitting at the kitchen table.
“Did you tell her you shot the gun?” Morris asked.
“No,” Monahan responded.
He said they were taking about the overall experience such as who they thought the people in the driveway were and if they would come back.
“You didn’t say: ‘Thank goodness I have a shotgun. I scared them,’” Morris asked.
Monahan said no.
Morris then asked about the 911 call that Monahan made to dispatchers.
Monahan had trouble remembering what he said.
“On direct, you said you told 911 you ‘had an incident at my house,” Morris asked.
He said whatever the tape says, he said. Regarding the statements he made to police, Monahan said: “This was not something I had ever had any kind of experience with. It takes a while to get a perspective.
He said that when officers arrived to take to him at his house, they never mentioned a shooting, they mentioned they were investigating a noise complaint, a loud party.
Morris pointed out that Monahan’s response was at one point that, “There’s been some guys hunting with dogs at night. Maybe that’s it.”
Then, he said he didn’t know. He had been asleep.
“That’s not true,” Morris said.
“I didn’t tell the truth,” Monahan admitted.
When asked why he didn’t want to come down to talk to officers, Monahan said he did not want to leave his wife alone in a vulnerable state.
When asked why his wife told police they had no visitors, Monahan said: “A visitor would be somebody I know or invited, a cordial meeting.”
Morris pointed out that Monahan was on the phone with dispatchers for 18 minutes.
“During those 18 minutes, you didn’t tell 911 that your house was almost invaded,” he said.
“No,” Monahan said.
“You didn’t tell people about the experience you had shooting to warn people off your property?” Morris asked.
“No,” Monahan replied.
“You told them you wanted to hurry up and leave so you could go back to bed. Isn’t that right?” Morris added.
“That’s correct,” Monahan said.
Closing arguments are set for Monday.