The Fort Ann man accused of killing his 95-year-old grandmother has a new lawyer and agreed in a brief court hearing Thursday to have his case moved to Washington County Court.
Kevin L. Gonyea is no longer being represented by the Washington County Public Defender’s Office, as the agency determined it had a conflict of interest because it had represented potential witnesses in the case, Public Defender Michael Mercure said.
Lake George lawyer Greg Teresi has been appointed to handle the case, paid for by the county as Gonyea has been determined to be indigent.
Gonyea and Teresi appeared briefly before Kingsbury Justice Michael Keenan on Wednesday, with Gonyea agreeing to have his case moved to County Court.
Moving the case allows prosecutors to continue to have him held without bail, without the preliminary hearing that would be required if the defense requested it. Prosecutors have to present evidence to convince a judge to keep the defendant in custody and have a felony charge moved to a superior court, unless the defendant waives the hearing. as Gonyea did.
Teresi could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Gonyea, 50, faces a second-degree murder charge for allegedly choking Leona Twiss to death July 9 in her Twiss Road, Fort Ann home in what police described as a “mercy” killing. Police said she suffered from dementia and was being considered for placement in a nursing home.
Both he and his wife, Melissa Gonyea, face felony charges for tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution for disposing of a towel that police believe was used to kill Ms. Twiss in her Twiss Road home. Melissa Gonyea was not charged with murder and not accused of taking part in strangling Twiss.
She is being represented by lawyer Robert Gregor, who was assigned to the case when her husband was represented by the public defender’s office. Because the two are co-defendants, the public defender’s office could not represent both.
Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan said his office has not scheduled the case for grand jury review as the investigation continues.
“Some of the forensic evidence is still being worked on,” he said. “There is still some investigation going on, and we don’t have a specific timetable yet.”
Both Gonyeas are being held in Washington County Jail, pending further court action.
Police said the Gonyeas moved to Fort Ann from Florida last summer to care for Twiss and her late husband, Walter Twiss, who died last fall at the age of 95. The Twisses had been married 74 years.
Second-degree murder is punishable by up to 25-years-to-life in state prison.