An upstate New York man was convicted Tuesday of killing a 20-year-old woman after the car she was riding in mistakenly pulled into his driveway last year.
On April 15, 2023, Monahan fired two shots in the direction of the car in which the 20-year-old Gillis was travelling, PEOPLE previously reported. Washington County Sheriff Jeffrey Murphy said at the time that Gillis was riding in the vehicle with three other passengers looking for a friend’s house in rural Hebron, N.Y., when the shooting occurred.
- Kevin Monahan, 66, was found guilty of second-degree murder, reckless endangerment and tampering in connection with the death of 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis
- Authorities said Gillis and three other passengers were looking for a friend’s house in Hebron, N.Y., when they mistakenly pulled into Monahan’s driveway on April 15, 2023
- Monahan fired two shots in the direction of the car in which Gillis was traveling, killing her
“It’s a very rural area, it’s dirt roads, there’s not a lot of cellular services or any type of internet,” the sheriff previously told reporters, explaining that the group drove up Monahan’s driveway “in error.”
In an interview with NBC News following Gillis’ death, the victim’s boyfriend of four years, Blake Walsh, told the outlet he thought the group was at the right address but they “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,” he said at the time, per the outlet.
According to police, the group drove off the property after shots were fired and called 911 after arriving in the nearby town of Salem.
Monahan testified at trial, saying he felt threatened by the presence of three unknown vehicles in his driveway and thought he was being blocked in, NBC News reported from the courtroom. He reportedly testified that he fired a warning shot, but the second shot went off when he tripped and fell.
“I just feel like my soul is dead,” he testified, according to NBC News. “There’s just a hole in me. I took someone else’s life. It’s just horrible.”
Monahan’s attorney Kurt Mausert has said his client did not intend to hurt anyone and he plans to file an appeal, according to CNN.
“You got a beautiful 20-year-old girl, who, of no fault of her own, is dead,” Mausert said, per CNN. “There’s no way to look at this case other than a horrible tragedy. But an accident has been turned into depraved indifference and that’s a tragedy also.”
Meanwhile, prosecutors argued Monahan acted recklessly, with District Attorney Tony Jordan telling CNN that he hopes the guilty verdict has resulted in justice for Gillis’ family. Monahan’s sentencing is scheduled for March 1, and according to CNN, the D.A. is seeking a maximum sentence of 25 years to life.
In a GoFundMe campaign created after the fatal incident, Gillis’ family said she was looking forward to starting college in Florida to pursue her dream of becoming a marine biologist.
“Kaylin was a kind, beautiful soul and a ray of light to anyone who was lucky enough to know her,” the fundraiser’s description reads. “Our family will never be the same but we will be guided by Kaylin’s positivity, optimism, and joy as we learn to live with her loss.”