ALFRED — Defense lawyer Daniel Lilley cut to the chase around 11:30 a.m. this morning at the murder trial of Jason Twardus, asking his client directly if he was responsible for the death Kelly Gorham three years.

“Did you kill her?” Lilley asked.

“No I did not,” Twardus said on the witness stand.

Lilley asked Twardus what his reaction was when he heard that Gorham’s body had been found on land owned by Twardus’ father in northern New Hampshire.

“I couldn’t fathom how or why anyone would do that to her,” Twardus said.

“Why would she be on her father’s land, can you fathom that?” Lilley asked.

“I can’t fathom why she would be up there at all,” Twardus said. “I was absolutely shocked.

“I knew I didn’t put her up there. I did not bury her.”

10:59 a.m.

ALFRED — Testifying at his murder trial this morning, Jason Twardus told the jury he was never violent toward his ex-fiancee, Kelly Gorham, and there were no hard feelings when she broke up with him in early 2007.

“There was never violence between me and Kelly.”

His lawyer, Daniel Lilley, asked several questions about the relationship and Twardus’ personality.

“Are you a fighter?” Lilley asked.

“No,” Twardus said. “Not by any means.”

His testimony will continue this morning after a 15-minute break.

Lilley had said earlier in the trial – now in its third week at York County Superior Court – that Twardus would make a “last-minute” decision about whether he would testify in his own defense. That question was answered as Lilley called the defendant as the first witness this morning.

The courtroom was silent and some in the large crowd appeared to be stunned by the move.

Twardus, 29, of Rochester, N.H., is charged with killing Gorham on Aug. 8, 2007. Prosecutors claim Twardus strangled Gorham at her apartment in Alfred, then buried her body on a remote piece of land owned by his father in northern New Hampshire. Police found Gorham’s body during a search of that land three weeks later.

Twardus’ defense team claims an alternate suspect, Gorham’s landlord, killed the nursing student and framed Twardus, possibly with help from another man who lived on the property, Calvin DeGreenia. The men had met in prison, and Durfee gave DeGreenia a job on his paving crew in the summer of 2007. They had dinner and drinks with Gorham on the night before she went missing. Both have testified they had nothing to do with the killing.

Lilley asked Twardus if he had been confused about dates and times when he was interviewed eight times by investigators after Gorham’s disappearance. Twardus said he was on vacation for most of the week of Aug. 6-10, 2007.

“I didn’t really pay attention to the time or the day,” Twardus recalled of that week. He said he was concerned about Gorham and was doing his best to give investigators information that might help them find her.

“I may have gotten the days and times jumbled up, but I wasn’t trying to pull anything over their eyes, by any means.”

“Going through something like this, it is extremely emotionally tolling.”

 

10:22 a.m.

ALFRED — Jason Twardus, who is accused of killing his ex-fiancee, 30-year-old nursing student Kelly Gorham, three years ago, has taken the stand to testify this morning in his own defense.

The trial has been ongoing since Sept. 13 at York County Superior Court.

Twardus, 29, of Rochester, N.H., is charged with killing Gorham, his ex-fiancee, on August 8, 2007. Prosecutors claim Twardus strangled Gorham at her apartment in Alfred, then buried her body on a remote piece of land owned by his father in northern New Hampshire. Police found Gorham’s body during a search of that land three weeks later.

Twardus’ defense team says two alternative suspects, men with criminal records who had dinner and drinks with Gorham on the night before she went missing, were responsible for her death.

Attorney Daniel Lilley also says a jury in Maine cannot convict Twardus if the state cannot prove she was actually killed in Maine, and not in New Hampshire as the defense lawyers have suggested.