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Jury selection enters day two, legal expert weighs in

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FORT EDWARD, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Jury selection in the trial for Kevin Monahan entered a second day. Monahan is accused of shooting and killing 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis in April 2023. Gillis was a passenger in a car that mistakenly drove up Monahan’s driveway in Hebron, looking for a friend’s house.

Judge Adam Michelini, the prosecution and the defense spent a second day screening through prospective jurors and their potential conflicts behind closed doors. The extended process was to be expected, Gillis’ death captured national attention, coinciding with other similar shootings in Missouri and Texas.

“It always adds an additional element to it especially in cases like this,” Ryan McCall, Senior Associate at Tully Rinckey, PLLC, said. “Not exactly the same, but the Schoharie Limo trial. It was notorious to find jurors who hadn’t heard of the case because everybody’s heard of the case.”

Because of that attention, more people were called to court than usual. McCall said once the voir dire process begins, each side will work to root out potential bias and find jurors that can be impartial.

“You’re going to ask questions ‘Are you a gun owner?’ And if you’re somebody on the defense and somebody says ‘No, I’m not a gun owner, I don’t believe in owning guns, I don’t believe in using guns.’ At that point, if you’re the defense, you’re going to sit there and say this might not be the best juror for us,” McCall said. “On the opposite side of the coin, say you’re a prosecutor, and a potential juror goes ‘I am a big stand your ground person even though it is not codified under New York State Law, And I believe people have the right to defend their property,’ that might make some bells come off for the prosecutor.”

Monahan is charged with murder, reckless endangerment and tampering with physical evidence in the shooting death of Gillis. Monahan’s attorneys, Arthur Frost and Kurt Mausert, said in the past the gun was used in self-defense, but with no “stand your ground” law in New York State, that argument could prove difficult.

“He’s going to have the uphill climb of saying ‘Where was the threat of deadly force?’” McCall said. “My understanding reading the case is, it was night outside, you weren’t able to see and it was just a car pulling up the driveway. It’s going to be very difficult for him to say ‘I thought they were going to cause me imminent threat or physical harm.’”

News10 ABC obtained access to that closed door pre-screening in the afternoon. Over 400 people have been pre-screened over the last two days. Judge Adam Michelini asked prospective jurors about the answers they provided on a questionnaire on Jan. 5 2023. Some of the concerns posed by potential jurors included their previous knowledge of the case through news reports, connections to potential witnesses and people who have close community connections that could interfere with their ability to be impartial.

A number of people told Judge Michelini they would not be able to put their opinions aside if selected to serve on the jury. Others said they had family or friends who have an association with Monahan or know people connected to the Gillis family.

Jury selection is expected to continue Jan. 10 with voir dire.

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