Suspect in wrong driveway shooting described as ‘hot-tempered’ during court hearing

Suspect in wrong driveway shooting described as ‘hot-tempered’ during court hearing

FORT EDWARD, N.Y. — The homeowner accused of fatally shooting a 20-year-old woman when an SUV she was in turned into the wrong driveway was described in court Wednesday as a man with a reputation for being “hot-tempered.”

Wearing a jacket, a dress shirt and shackles, Kevin Monahan sat next to his attorney in a Washington County courtroom as prosecutors argued he was a flight risk. Charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Kaylin Gillis, Monahan faces sentences, if he is convicted, of a minimum of 15 years to life and a maximum of 25 years to life in prison. He has pleaded not guilty.

Authorities have said Monahan, 65, fired at a Ford Explorer from his porch Saturday after a group of four friends realized they had pulled into the wrong driveway and were leaving his home in Hebron, roughly 50 miles north of Albany.

One of the two shots hit Gillis, an aspiring marine biologist who was pronounced dead several miles away after the group called 911.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Christian Morris said Wednesday that Monahan is “confrontational and hot-tempered,” which would lend itself to impulsivity.

Morris also revealed Monahan had recently “caused a scene” at a state Department of Motor Vehicles office, alleging he was upset because he had to show up in person. Prosecutors asked the judge to impose bail between $250,000 cash and $1 million partly secured bond.

Monahan’s attorney, Kurt Mausert, accused prosecutors of spreading innuendo and said an alleged blowup at the DMV should not be factored into bail because “the whole state would get locked up.”

“Everybody in the state has a bad experience at the DMV — that’s ridiculous,” he said.

He asked Judge Adam Michelini to impose bail between $10,000 cash and $50,000 partly secured bond, saying the purpose of bail is to ensure a defendant’s participation in the criminal proceedings and not to impose undue hardship.

Michelini ordered that Monahan be remanded without bail. He said the only considerations were Monahan’s alleged use of a firearm and the fact that Gillis was killed.

“I don’t think there is any more serious harm than that,” he said.

Michelini’s ruling prompted fist pumps and shoulder pats from Gillis’ relatives and friends.

Wednesday’s hearing, however, did not shed light on why the suspect would have opened fire on the SUV.

A neighbor told The Associated Press that Monahan had become more and more upset in recent years at people making wrong turns into his driveway.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News on Tuesday night, Blake Walsh said that he and three passengers — two friends and Gillis, his girlfriend — had been looking for a party when two rounds were fired in their direction.

“We thought we were at the right address,” he said. “We didn’t have any cell service to figure it out. As soon as we figured it out that we were at the wrong location, we started to leave, and that’s when everything happened.”

Walsh, 19, of Cambridge, New York, said what occurred next was a blur.

Blake Walsh and Kaylin Gillis. (Courtesy Blake Walsh)

Blake Walsh and Kaylin Gillis. (Courtesy Blake Walsh)

“My friend said, ‘They’re shooting — go!’ I tried to step on the gas as fast as I could, and that’s when the fatal shot came through,” he said.

Walsh, who was at Monahan’s hearing, would not comment to reporters before and after the proceeding.

While Mausert has declined to discuss details of the shooting, he told NBC News before Wednesday’s hearing that “there were mistakes made by the drivers of the vehicles, mistakes made by my client,” adding: “I cannot elaborate on that more until I conduct my own investigation, which I’m in the process of doing. And until I receive discoverable material from the district attorney’s office.”

He said that Monahan had no ill intent and that the human tendency is to villainize someone when there is a tragedy.

“If the situation involves error rather than ill intent, then there really is no villain,” Mausert said. “I believe this is a case that was sort of the perfect storm of errors and confluence of events that resulted in a tragedy without necessarily there being malefic intent.”

Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan said at a post-hearing news conference that prosecutors are weighing other charges against Monahan. One potential charge mentioned in court Wednesday was first-degree attempted assault. Jordan, while stressing Monahan is presumed innocent, said, “My office will do everything in our power to ensure that justice is served for Kaylin Gillis.”

He said the evidence will determine any new charges and noted that after the shooting, more than 40 law enforcement personnel responded and worked to gather evidence.

“We’ll follow the facts where they lead us,” Jordan said.

Gillis’ father, Andrew Gillis, also spoke to reporters after the hearing. He said he was thankful he “got to tell her that I love her before she walked out the door.”

He said that he is “angry” his daughter is dead but that the fact Monahan was held without bail was the “best possible outcome” so early in the criminal case.

“It brings a little comfort,” he said. “I think everybody in the courtroom breathed a little sigh of relief when they heard that.”

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