Kevin Gonyea

Kevin Gonyea listens in court during his murder arraignment on Sept. 15 before Washington County Judge Kelly McKeighan. Gonyea pleaded not guilty to seven charges, which included second-degree murder.

Courtesy WNYT-NewsChannel 13

FORT EDWARD — The lawyer for the Fort Ann man who has been charged with killing his grandmother has asked a judge to dismiss the charges in the case, claiming the indictment against his client is flawed and there isn’t enough evidence to charge him with murder.

Kevin L. Gonyea will be in Washington County Court on Friday to argue that the charges against him should not stand for the July 9 death of 95-year-old Leona Twiss in her West Fort Ann home.

Teresi filed a 60-page pre-trial motion recently, seeking a variety of rulings on behalf of his client to either dismiss the charges or limit the evidence against him.

The case stems from Twiss’ death in her Twiss Road home, which was initially billed as being from natural causes. But forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Sikirica found that she had injuries consistent with being strangled, and Gonyea was charged with murder two days later.

Much of the criminal case is based on the statement of his wife, Melissa Gonyea, who told police that her husband killed his grandmother, then had her dispose of the towel that was allegedly used to choke Ms. Twiss.

“He killed her,” Mrs. Gonyea could be heard telling her lawyer during a court appearance, Washington County sheriff’s officers reported in court records.

His lawyer, Greg Teresi, claimed that the only evidence against his client was “inadmissible hearsay” from Gonyea’s wife. There are no indications Mr. Gonyea made any admissions to police.

“There was not competent and admissible evidence presented to the grand jury that the defendant killed Leona Twiss,” Teresi wrote.

Washington County prosecutors also illegally “prejudiced” Mr. Gonyea by having the grand jury review welfare fraud allegations against him during the murder case review, Teresi wrote.

Gonyea, 50, was also indicted on welfare fraud charges, in addition to the second-degree murder, tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution counts for his grandmother’s death and alleged coverup efforts afterward.

Should the charges not be dismissed, Teresi asked McKeighan to try Gonyea separately from his wife, who was charged with tampering with evidence, hindering prosecution and welfare fraud counts.

Robert Gregor, the lawyer for Gonyea’s wife, has also asked McKeighan to dismiss charges against her.

The Washington County District Attorney’s Office is contesting the dismissal motions.

Mrs. Gonyea’s case will be argued at 9:30 a.m. Friday, and her husband’s at 1:30 p.m. McKeighan may set trial dates in the case during the hearing.

McKeighan ruled late last month that the district attorney’s office could compel Mr. Gonyea to give a DNA sample to be used for comparison to evidence recovered in the case.

Teresi has said his client’s case is likely headed to trial.

One unusual angle that will likely play out in the case is that Mrs. Gonyea can not be made to testify against her husband because of “spousal privilege.”

She could, though, willingly testify as part of a plea deal on her own charges.

Both Gonyeas have pleaded not guilty and are being held in Washington County Jail pending further court action.

They had moved to the region from Florida last year to care for Kevin Gonyea’s grandparents. His grandfather died of natural causes last fall, and prosecutors believes Ms. Twiss was killed because the couple wanted to return to Florida.

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reporter

Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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