Key witnesses testify in driveway shooting case

Gillis’ boyfriend: ‘People were screaming’ inside car during shooting

The boyfriend of the Schuylerville woman killed last April after she was shot in a car that had turned in the wrong driveway took the stand Thursday to describe what happened that night.

Jurors on Thursday got to hear from the boyfriend and other friends who were with Kaylin Gillis on the night she was killed in a Hebron driveway last April.

Monahan is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Gillis on his property.

Her boyfriend, Blake Walsh, choked up at one point as he spoke about how an evening that began with an invitation received through Snapchat to attend a party at a mutual friend’s home ended with his girlfriend’s death.

Walsh admitted that friends were drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana at his Cambridge house, but said he was not.

Walsh said that the friends rode in his SUV, another car and one friend on a motorcycle.

When they got to the home, they realized that they were in the wrong place and began to do a three-point turn to start to leave

“From the moment that you stopped and was informed that you were at the wrong place to the beginning of starting that 3-point turn, do you know about how long you were standing there?” asked First Assistant District Attorney Christian Morris.

“I would say about a minute,” Walsh said.

He said at that point he pulled out his phone to see if he could message someone to get the address.

The two vehicles side by side did a three-point turn. He pulled up a little bit and then backed up for the second point of the turn.

The back of his vehicle would be facing the house at this point.

It was at this point, he heard a lot noise. Someone said they were shooting at them and then he heard a gunshot. He pulled down the driveway and started to leave.

He asked if people were OK and realized Gillis was hurt.

“There was panicking. People were screaming,” he said.

On cross-examination, Walsh told defense attorney Arthur Frost that he heard a “pop.”
The jury was excused for a sidebar. He said that is something different than he told the grand jury in which he didn’t hear a gunshot.

Judge Adam Michelini said he didn’t believe Frost had laid a foundation to impeach Walsh’s testimony.

Catherine Rondeau

The next witness, Catherine Rondeau, started crying on the stand. She was leading the group of friends in a Jeep Compass to what she thought was the house of a friend on Hebron Hills Road.

She said she had smoked marijuana but did not believe it affected her ability to drive. She led the way to get to the party.

“I thought I knew where I was going,” she said, beginning to cry.

She said she pulled into the Monahan driveway, which looked very similar to the house she was seeking. They had big open porches with a lot of open windows

She continued crying when shown a picture of Monahan’s house on the projector.

Rondeau said when she was making the three-point turn, she saw the house lights come on. As she was reversing for the second point of the turn, she heard a loud noise.

Then, she said, Blake Walsh told her that somebody was shooting and she put the car in drive and sped down the driveway.

She said she heard metal breaking in the car. She ducked and was able to keep the car in motion and continue down the driveway.

On cross-examination, Frost asked if she could see the reflective mailbox sign. She said she could not.

Frost asked if she saw the “No Trespassing” sign. Rondeau said everyone in this rural area has these types of signs. However, she said, if you are invited someplace you don’t think about that. At that point, she thought she was at the right house.

Frost asked: “Would it be fair to say there was only enough room between your vehicle and Mr. Walsh’s vehicle for only a motorcycle to fit through. No other vehicle could come down the driveway and leave?”

She said yes.

He also asked if anyone was drinking alcohol. Rondeau said she remembers Gillis in the car with some goldfish and a bottle of Tito’s Vodka.

Alexandra Whiting

The jury also heard from Alexandra Whiting, who was sitting in the rear passenger seat in Blake Walsh’s vehicle.

She described how the two SUVs stopped when the motorcycle went up further toward the house.

When they realized they were in the wrong house, she started back down the driveway.

At around that same time, the lights came on in the house.
Whiting said looking over her left shoulder, she saw a man standing in the middle of the front area of the porch holding a gun.

“How do you know he was holding a gun?” Morris asked.

“I could see a silhouette of it,” Whiting said.

Then, Whiting said she heard a noise and a flash.

When asked how Monahan was holding the gun, she said she was not exactly sure. She believed it was right out in front of him.

Frost pressed her on inconsistencies in her statement. She told police hours after the shooting that they were not doing a 3-point turn. Rather, the motorcyclist drove away and then Walsh backed up to leave.

Morris objected and after a brief break, they moved off that line of questioning.

Frost said Whiting testified that the man, later identified as Monahan, was holding the gun pointing outward toward the vehicles.

“But previously when you met with the gentlemen police officer you told them that the man fired the gun in the air?” Frost asked. On redirect, Morris asked if the officer had asked her what she meant by shooting in the air. She said no.

Rory Bain

The next witness, Rory Bain, 20 admitted that he had smoked marijuana earlier in the evening. He was not sure of the route, so he was following the lead vehicle on his 1991 Honda CM 400 motorcycle.

When they arrived at the driveway the two SUVs stopped and he continued on a little further to get a better look.

He estimated that he was traveling 10 to 15 mph. He didn’t see any signs of activity and so he headed back down. However, he stalled out because he was in third gear. He had to restart, throttle it a bit and put it in first gear. He turned off his earbuds to confer with the others to understand what people were saying and they start to leave.

He starts to head back down when he hears a loud “pop” and increases speed down the driveway. He turns a corner and then hears what he is sure was a gunshot with a “crack.” He continued down the driveway, took a right and then down the road. He eventually realizes that the other vehicles have not followed him.

Because of a lack of cell service in the area, he is not able to make contact with the others.

He eventually does meet up with another friend who is traveling on way to the party.

He follows that friend to the party at the house on Hebron Hills House Road and hears from investigators at 12:30 a.m.

On cross-examination, Frost asks questions about arriving at the property. Bain said that he does not see the name “Monahan” on the mailbox or the signs that say “No Trespassing.”

Frost asks him about how fast he was going when he stalled out.

He said he maybe was in second gear at about 15 to 20 mph.
Frost asked if he would agree that no one from the Monahan residence was yelling at anybody.

“I did not hear anybody,” he said.

Frost also asked whether he or anybody from either of the other two vehicles yelled up to the house.

“No, we did not,” he said.

When asked on redirect by Morris, Bain said he was going faster coming down the driveway than going up.

Jacob Haynes

Jacob Haynes, a passenger in Rondeau’s vehicle, gave his account of the events of that night.

Like the others, he said that when he realized that they were in the wrong location, they began to leave. First, he heard one gunshot and then a few seconds later he heard another one.

“I could hear it hit the roof and I heard a loud bang, and I ducked and I felt something against my head,” he said.

Then, he said he couldn’t hear out of his left ear for 10 to 15 seconds.  

“I see Kaylin slumped over to the right,” he said. “So, we start to panic and she’s not being responsive. We’re telling her to wake up.”

Then, all the vehicles leave.

“We notice she’s bleeding from the right side of her neck, so I put my hand to cover the wound. We’re all trying to explain what happened, what to do. Then, the 911 operator tells everyone to stop the car,” he said.

They take Gillis out of the car.

“I still have my hand on her neck, and then the 911 operator as if anyone knows CPR. Then, I perform CPR on it while the 911 operator was telling me what to do,” Haynes said.

Maxwell Barney

The final witness of the day was Maxwell Barney who gave his accounting of events. He said that the motorcyclist spent no more than 20 seconds up near the house before coming back down.

Everyone decides to leave, he recounted. He remembers sees a small light flicker on from a lamp. Then, it seemed like the interior and exterior lights went on simultaneously.

At that point, the vehicles begin to start making their three-point turn.

He could see the figure of who he believed to be a man standing outside the house.

The vehicle he was in had completed the second point of the turn and was in the process of the third point.

“I heard one gunshot and then maybe 5 seconds later, there was a second shot,” he said.  

Then, they leave the driveway.

Walsh begins honking the horn very rapidly to get the other vehicle’s attention at the end of the driveway.

They continue down the road a short way before pulling on Cemetery Road.

He said Walsh was already on the phone with 911.

“I got out of the vehicle. Jacob was in panic, so I decided to take the phone and communicate with the 911 operator,” Barney said.

DNA evidence

Earlier in the day, State Police forensic investigator Jordan Caruso testified that she only found sufficient DNA evidence on the forearm portion of the Monahan’s gun that matched a sample from Monahan.

On cross-examination, Frost asked if there was any evidence that bleach or peroxide was used to remove fingerprints.

She said that is not a test she would perform.

On redirect examination, District Attorney Tony Jordan asked if a simple cloth could wipe away finger prints.

She said yes.