Thursday, April 17, 2014
ALFRED - The attorney for the man convicted of murdering Kelly Gorham in 2007 argued Friday in York County Superior Court that he should be granted a second trial on grounds that prosecutors ignored new evidence in the case and investigators dragged their feet looking into information that could have helped defend his client.
Jason Twardus, who was convicted in October 2010 after a three-week trial of murdering his ex-fiancée, had previously filed a motion requesting a new trial in 2011, but that request was denied.
His attorney, Daniel Lilley, argued in support of a second motion for a new trial Friday before Judge G. Arthur Brennan, claiming that jailhouse statements made by a potential witness in the case about one of the last people to see Gorham alive were not investigated until after the first trial was over.
Kenneth Villella, an inmate at York County Jail, was first interviewed by police about the late John Durfee in June 2011, months after Twardus had been convicted. Lilley called Durfee, who was Gorham’s landlord, an “alternative suspect.”
Durfee, who lived in Alfred and rented to Gorham on the same property, died on Aug. 29, 2011, at the age of 67.
Lilley said that since Villella was interviewed after the trial and because Durfee died “put the defense at an extreme advantage.”
He called it “evidence lost because it was not developed. It was not followed up on in a timely fashion.”
Deputy Attorney General William Stokes called the jailhouse statements by Villella “double hearsay” and said that if Lilley’s alternative suspect theory were legitimate it would be a frame up of “epic proportion.”
The judge made no immediate decision on the request for a second trial and said he wouldn’t get to the case again until the end of November.
Jason Twardus, who was convicted of murder for the strangulation death of his former fiancee, is shown in a May 11, 2012 photo during a motion for a new trial. That motion was denied and Twardus was back in court Friday with another motion filed by lawyer Daniel Lilley.
John Ewing/Press Herald file