Sep. 12—WILKES-BARRE — A Luzerne County jury was shown crime scene photos including the bullet ridden body of Robert Francis Kile Sr. on the second day of Peter Jonathan Gillis’ trial before Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky Jr.
Deputy District Attorney Thomas Hogans and Assistant District Attorney Kyle Scanlon are attempting to convince the jury Gillis, 60, intentionally killed Kile, 57, by discharging 17 rounds from a .223-caliber rifle on June 19, 2020.
Kile suffered 10 gunshot wounds in the shooting outside Gillis’ home, 2395 Route 92 in Exeter Township.
Gillis’ attorney, Bernard J. Brown, believes the shooting was in self-defense as he told the jury Kile threatened to shoot Gillis during a dispute in April 2020.
To illustrate his argument, Brown turned prosecution witness Edward Charney to his favor.
Gillis and Kile were involved in a land dispute about property Kile and his wife, Barbara Kile, purchased adjacent to their Route 92 home from Gillis’ brother, Eric Gillis, in March 2020.
Charney, called to testify by Hogans, said Gillis wanted to take videos and pictures of Kile removing trees in the area of a community well, the water source for homes in the area.
Testifying for Hogans, Charney said Kile became agitated at Gillis, saying he was going to get his gun and shoot him during the confrontation in April 2020. Charney said he did not see Kile with a gun.
When questioned by Brown, Charney said Kile made the threat twice about shooting Gillis, noting Gillis was fearful of Kile and once attempted to file a protection-from abuse order against Kile.
Charney said he reported the threat to the now defunct Exeter Township police department as he was concerned for Gillis’ safety.
Hogans played for the jury surveillance footage recorded from three cameras affixed to Gillis’ house while state police Corporal Shaun Flynn testified, narrating for the jury what investigators interpreted from the videos.
Footage showed Kile driving a Chevrolet 1500 pickup truck towing a log splitter from the front of his home and turning onto a road to access his recently purchased property. Gillis is seen pulling out of his driveway in his vehicle and turning down the same road Kile had turn onto.
Minutes later, footage showed Gillis returning home and backing up his vehicle in front of his house as Kile is recorded pulling in front of Gillis’ home partially blocking Route 92.
Kile emerges from the Chevrolet truck as Gillis is seen in footage discharging rounds from a rifle in Kile’s direction.
William Knowles, then-Exeter Township police chief, arrives and takes Gillis into custody and Exeter Township police Sgt. Charles Neff secured the rifle from inside Gillis’ residence.
In one video frame depicting Kile walking in front of the Chevrolet before going up Gillis’ driveway, Brown pointed out to the jury that Kile is holding some type of object.
Brown suggested Kile was armed with a weapon that may have been taken by either his daughter, Samantha Manning, or grandson, Zachary Monahan.
Monahan moved the Chevrolet truck as Manning, an emergency medical technician, performed life saving measures.
Manning testified Monday she wanted the Chevrolet moved to make way for an ambulance.
State Police Trooper Anthony Stempien, a member of the Troop P Forensic Services Unit, testified he recovered 17 shell casings from the front of Gillis’ house.
Crime scene photos including Kile’s body were shown to the jury as Stempien testified.
Stempien said Kile’s body was 9 1/2 feet from Route 92 and about 15 feet from Gillis’ parked vehicle, the area where Gillis is recorded discharging the rifle.
Stempien further testified he did not find a firearm or any type weapon inside the Chevrolet truck.
Gillis is facing trial on charges of criminal homicide and recklessly endangering another person.
Kile was an Exeter Township supervisor and second assistant fire chief at Mt. Zion Bicentennial Fire Co. in Harding.
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