Man gets 25 years to life for killing woman in car that took wrong turn into his driveway

A closeup of two men sitting, facing left.
Kevin Monahan, left, fatally shot a 20-year-old woman after the SUV she was riding in mistakenly pulled into his rural driveway.
(Will Waldron / Albany (N.Y.) Times Union via Associated Press)

A man who fatally shot a 20-year-old woman after the SUV she was riding in mistakenly drove into his rural driveway in upstate New York was sentenced Friday to 25 years to life in prison.

Kevin Monahan, 66, was convicted of second-degree murder in the April 2023 death of Kaylin Gillis. She was riding in a caravan of two cars and a motorcycle that was trying to leave after mistakenly pulling into Monahan’s long, winding driveway while looking for a party at another house in the town of Hebron.

“I think it’s important for people to know that it’s not OK to shoot people and have them killed for turning down your driveway,” Judge Adam Michelini said. Apart from the wider deterrent effect, the judge said, it’s important that Monahan remain behind bars rather than be free to harm more people.


Michelini added up to four more years to Monahan’s sentence for tampering with the murder weapon, and scolded him for showing no remorse.

“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 the law,” the judge said.

The shootings of four young people after simple, everyday mistakes have shone a spotlight on the proliferation of ‘stand your ground’ laws in the U.S.

April 21, 2023

Prosecutors had asked for the maximum sentence; the defense had requested leniency.

Monahan declined an opportunity to speak, and was then led away, to applause and a shout of “coward” from the gallery.

Defense attorneys said they would appeal.

Gillis’ death drew attention far beyond upstate New York. It came days after the shooting of 16-year-old Ralph Yarl in Kansas City, Mo. Yarl, who is Black, was wounded by an 84-year-old white man after he went to the wrong door while trying to pick up his younger brothers.

On the night of Gillis’ death, the group of friends had realized their error and turned around to leave the driveway. Monahan fired on them, and his second shot struck Gillis in the neck as she sat in the front passenger seat of an SUV driven by her boyfriend.

Monahan maintained that the fatal shot was an accident and that the shotgun he fired was defective. He also said he believed at the time that his home, about 40 miles north of Albany, was “under siege” by intruders, and said he came out to fire a warning shot to try to scare the group away while his wife hid inside.


Prosecutors argued that Monahan was motivated by an irrational rage toward trespassers.

A jury deliberated in January for less then two hours before returning guilty verdicts against Monahan for murder, reckless endangerment and tampering with physical evidence.

Gillis’ boyfriend, Blake Walsh, was behind the wheel of the SUV that night.

“I will never be able to forgive you,” he told Monahan, who looked on with a stony face before his sentence was announced.

Walsh told Monahan that he’d taken the life of someone who “never, not for a second” threatened him.

Alexandra Whiting, who was also a passenger in the car, told the court she still struggles with the loss of her best friend.

“Not only do I never get to see my best friend again, but I now have a new deep-rooted fear and hatred for the world. I feel afraid in everyday situations,” Whiting said in a soft, quavering voice.

Gillis’ father, Andrew Gillis, who has described his daughter as someone who loved animals and had dreams of becoming a marine biologist or a veterinarian, told the court that losing her had left “an indescribable void” in her loved ones’ lives.


“Every day we wake up to the harsh reality that she’s no longer here,” he said. “We will never see her beautiful face, hear her laughter or simply be able to hug her.”