ALFRED — Defense lawyer Daniel Lilley went on the offensive Tuesday in the murder trial of his client Jason Twardus.

While Twardus, 29, sat calmly at the table behind him in York County Superior Court, Lilley challenged the memory and credibility of Calvin DeGreenia, a key witness in the state’s case against Twardus in the killing of his former fiancee, 30-year-old Kelly Gorham, in August 2007.

DeGreenia was 21 and had just been released from prison on a burglary conviction when he became romantically involved with Gorham in the week before she disappeared from her apartment in Alfred.

Lilley pounced on inconsistencies in the statements that DeGreenia made to police and others after Gorham’s disappearance, and through his questions suggested that DeGreenia played a role in her death.

DeGreenia said he ate dinner and had drinks with Gorham on the night before she disappeared, but he denied any involvement in the crime.

“No, sir,” DeGreenia said when the prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General William Stokes, asked him point-blank if he killed Gorham.

On cross-examination, Lilley reminded DeGreenia that he initially told police that he and a co-worker had seen Gorham walk past her apartment building and get into a red car with an unknown man around 6 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2007.

That would have been several hours after police say Twardus killed Gorham and buried her body on land owned by his father in far northern New Hampshire.

DeGreenia backpedaled on that Aug. 8 sighting, testifying Tuesday that the woman he saw could not have been Gorham.

“At first, you were 100 percent sure it was Kelly,” Lilley said. “Why did you change your story? What happened since then that makes you think it wasn’t Kelly?”

“Now that I’m sitting here, I don’t think it was her. How else can I say it?” said DeGreenia, who described his memory of the events of that week as fuzzy.

Lilley has implied that DeGreenia and John Durfee – the landlord who rented separate apartments to DeGreenia and Gorham, and lived in another house on the property – had to change their story about seeing Gorham to be consistent with the state’s case against Twardus.

DeGreenia testified that he and Durfee cooked out with Gorham on the night of Aug. 7, 2007, then he spent some time watching television in Gorham’s apartment in a detached garage. He said he went back to his own apartment in the property’s pool house and went to bed around 10:30 p.m.

Gorham’s supervisor at Maine Medical Center in Portland reported her missing on Aug. 8, after the generally reliable nursing student failed to show up for work at 1 p.m.

“She had a good head on her shoulders. She had a good future,” DeGreenia said.

As the trial continues today, it will be up to Stokes and Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese to refocus the jury’s attention on Twardus, who also has made several inconsistent statements to investigators.

Twardus and Gorham lived together in the apartment in Alfred and were engaged to be married on Aug. 4, 2007, Stokes said during opening statements.

Gorham broke off the engagement around Christmastime in 2006, and in June 2007 she asked Twardus to leave. He moved in with his father in Rochester, N.H.

The state claims that Twardus arrived at Gorham’s apartment and strangled her sometime on the morning of Aug. 8, 2007. He allegedly drove the body to a remote tract of land owned by his father in Stewartstown, N.H., not far from the Canadian border. Her body was found there on Sept. 1, 2007.

Stokes said surveillance footage from a Big Apple store near the Twardus family land shows Twardus at the store around noon on Aug. 8. That was the day Gorham did not show up for work at Maine Medical Center. Twardus told detectives he was at home all day in Rochester, Stokes said.

One of Gorham’s hairs was found in Twardus’ trunk, and his fingerprint was found on an item in the grave where Gorham was buried, Stokes said.

 

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at: [email protected]