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‘You just don’t get it.’ Judge admonishes NY man who fatally shot woman in his driveway and sentences him to 25 years to life

A judge strongly admonished a 66-year-old man Friday before sentencing him to 25 years to life in prison for shooting and killing a woman who was a passenger in a car that mistakenly drove up his driveway in rural New York last year.

“I think you really could possibly do the same thing again,” Washington County Judge Adam Michelini told Kevin Monahan before imposing his sentence for second-degree murder. “It’s obvious to me that you feel justified. You don’t take any responsibility for the outcome of your actions. You just don’t get it.”

Additionally, the judge imposed a concurrent sentence of up to seven years in prison for reckless endangerment and a consecutive term of up to four years in prison for tampering with evidence.

Monahan was convicted last month in the April 2023 death of 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis, a passenger in a vehicle that Monahan shot at when it accidentally turned into his driveway while its occupants were looking for a friend’s house. Gillis died a short time after the shooting.

Prosecutors argued that the 66-year-old defendant acted recklessly. The defense said what happened was a terrible accident, and Monahan took the stand at trial to explain his actions.

“The first thing you do on the witness stand when you come up here and testify is you made a joke to the jury about them finally being able to see your face,” Michelini told the defendant.

“You senselessly took the life of Kaylin Gillis and you have the gall to sit here and talk about how you plan to finish up the work on your house and race motocross in the future. You don’t deserve that. What would make you think that you deserve those things?”

In killing Gillis, the judge said, Monahan “took away a friend, you took away a girlfriend, you took away a daughter, a granddaughter and a sibling. You took away so much unrealized potential, her potential to enrich other people’s lives and to contribute to our society.”

Michelini added, “Any remorse you have isn’t for the harm you’ve caused. The only regret you have is that you’re finally facing the consequences for your actions. You murdered Kaylin Gillis. You shot at a car full of people and you didn’t care what would happen and you repeatedly lied about it. You deserve to spend the maximum time in prison allowable under our law, and I don’t make this decision because it’s easy. I make it because it’s what’s deserved. I make it because it’s what’s just.”

Prosecutors had asked for the maximum penalty. The defense asked for leniency, saying Monahan was remorseful and had no criminal record at the time of the shooting.

After sentencing, Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan praised the testimony and composure of the young people who had been with Gillis the night she was killed.

“When you consider what his selfish acts put these kids through, the juxtaposition between him and them on the witness stand is spectacular,” Jordan told reporters. “You know, they sat up there and shared a very personal experience of horror, and yet did so with grace.”

Jordan said the stern rebuke from the court on Friday “showed what the vast majority of people who’ve paid attention to this view this as: It was the act of an angry, selfish male who had no regard for the life of other people.”

“The judge was spot on – that he is a grave risk to society and if he’s released back into society he would do it yet again,” said Jordan, referring to Monahan.

Monahan testified he felt threatened

Monahan declined to address the court before the judge handed down the sentence. At trial Monahan testified he felt like he and his wife were under siege that day and that he only wanted to protect his wife, Spectrum News 1 reported.

Monahan told jurors that he and his wife were awakened by three vehicles in his driveway: two SUVs and a motorcycle revving its engine, the station reported. He testified that he told his wife to hide in their closet, and he loaded his 20-gauge pump-action shotgun before going outside.

Monahan testified that he thought about past criminal activity in the area and fired a warning shot into the air. The vehicles began to leave slowly, he testified, and he lost his balance on some nails on his deck when the second fatal shot was fired, Spectrum News 1 reported.

Under cross-examination, Monahan was not able to point out in a photograph the nails that caused him to lose his balance. He was emotional when asked how Gillis’ death made him feel, telling the jury that his “soul is dead,” the station reported.

Kaylin Gillis - From GoFundMe
Kaylin Gillis - From GoFundMe

Gillis was fatally shot just days after a Black teenager in Kansas City was shot twice by a White homeowner after going to the wrong address to pick up his siblings. Both cases made national headlines.

In the New York shooting, after the shots were fired Gillis’ group drove away from the house, looking for cell phone service, and then called 911.

They were found around 5 miles away from the home in the town of Salem. First responders began administering CPR but Gillis was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police officers went to Monahan’s home in Hebron and found him to be uncooperative, the Washington County sheriff told reporters at the time.

Gillis’ family issued a statement at the time praising her as a “kind, beautiful soul and a ray of light to anyone who was lucky enough to know her.”

“She was a big sister, much loved daughter, devoted friend and partner to her loving boyfriend. She was just beginning to find her way in the world with kindness, humor, and love,” the family said. “Kaylin was a talented artist, an honor student, a Disney fanatic and loved animals. She was looking forward to starting college in Florida to pursue her dream of becoming a marine biologist.”

Gillis graduated from Schuylerville High School in 2021 and held the position of “flyer” on the cheerleading team.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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