ALFRED — The jury in the murder trial of Jason Twardus traveled by bus this morning to the apartment building where nursing student Kelly Gorham lived before her disappearance three years ago.

Twardus, 29, is accused of strangling Gorham, his ex-fiancee, and burying her body on land owned by his father in a remote part of northern New Hampshire in August 2007.

Before opening statements were held at York County Superior Court, Justice G. Arthur Brennan led the brief trip to the nearby residence on Waterboro Road in Alfred where prosecutors say Gorham was strangled.

Besides the jury, lawyers on both sides as well as Twardus himself – guarded by court marshals – toured the property owned by John Durfee. The purpose of the outing was to give the jury some perspective on the testimony and other evidence that is expected to be heard over the course of the trial, which is expected to last two weeks.

Around 10:30 a.m., after the jury had been bused back to the courthouse, the lawyers presented opening statements.

William Stokes, deputy attorney general, told the jury that the 30-year-old Gorham had broken off her engagement with Twardus and that he had moved out of the apartment about two months before she went missing. In early August 2007 Gorham had started a new relationship with Calvin DeGreenia, who had moved into a poolhouse on Durfee’s property.

“Kelly was ready to move on,” Stokes said. “The defendant, on the other hand, wanted to maintain some type of relationship.”

The evidence against Twardus, Stokes said, will include several inconsistent statements he gave to investigators and surveillance footage of Twardus at a Big Apple store near his father’s land in Stewartston, N.H., at a time when Twardus claimed to have been home in Rochester, about 180 miles to the south.

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.

Twardus’ lead defense lawyer, Daniel Lilley, said the circumstantial evidence points in many different directions. Lilley said the jury should question the credibility of Durfee and DeGreenia, who both have criminal records, met in jail and were on probation at the time of Gorham’s disappearance.

Lilley said the evidence will show that the two men were partying with Gorham on the night of Aug. 7, 2007, and into the next morning, at the time when the state says Twardus committed the crime.

Lilley said whoever killed Gorham meant for her grave site to be discovered on Twardus family land, and placed photographs of Gorham and Twardus there in an effort to frame his client. Gorham had directions to the New Hampshire property in her apartment, but those directions and other maps of outings she had taken with Twardus have disappeared, Lilley claimed.

“Beware the perfect murder,” Lilley told the jury. “The perfect murder is the one in which an innocent man is convicted of murder, then the real murderer never has to worry again about being caught.

“Unanswered questions we call reasonable doubts in my business,” Lilley said.

The state will begin calling witnesses this afternoon.


10:30 a.m.

ALFRED – The muder trial of Jason Twardus is underway this morning in York County Superior Court.

Twardus, 29, of Rochester, N.H., is charged with killing Kelly Gorham, a 30-year-old nursing student, in 2007. Prosecutors say he killed Gorham at her apartment and then buried her body on a remote tract of land in northern New Hampshire that is owned by Twardus’ father.