A man who fatally sh*ot a 20-year-old woman in an SUV that was mistakenly driven up his rural driveway in upstate New York was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on Friday.

Kevin Monahan, 66, was convicted of second-degree murd*er in the death of Kaylin Gillis. Gillis was riding in a caravan of two cars and a motorcycle that pulled into Monahan’s long, winding driveway in the town of Hebron last April while her friends were looking for another person’s house.

The conviction had a maximum sentence of 25 years to life, which prosecutors previously said they would be seeking, with additional time for tampering with the murd*er weapon. The defense asked for leniency. Monahan declined an opportunity to speak.

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

Gillis’ death drew attention far beyond upstate New York. It came days after the sh*ooting of 16-year-old Ralph Yarl in Kansas City. 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 were headed to a party when they accidentally turned down Monahan’s driveway. Monahan came out of his home and fired two sho*ts from his deck, the second striking Gillis in the neck as she sat in the front passenger seat of an SUV driven by her boyfriend.

Kaylin Gillis.

Monahan maintained the fatal sh*ot was an accident involving a defective gun and that he believed the house he shared with his wife about 40 miles north of Albany was “under siege” by intruders. He said he came out with a sho*tgun to try to scare the group away while his wife hid inside. Alexandra Whiting, a friend of Gillis’, testified in January that the gun was facing them at the time of the incident. 

Prosecutors argued that Monahan was motivated by irrational rage toward trespassers. One of Monahan’s neighbors, Adam Matthews, said that he had become more and more upset in recent years at people making wrong turns into his driveway. It was established at trial that most of the friends did not notice the private property sign by the driveway.

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

Gillis’ father, Andrew Gillis, has described his daughter as someone who loved animals and had dreams of becoming a marine biologist or a veterinarian. 

“Every day we wake up to the harsh reality that that she’s no longer here. We will never see her beautiful face, hear her laughter,” Gillis said in court Friday before Monahan’s sentence was announced.

Her 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.

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