State supreme court denies appeal of N.H. man convicted of strangling nursing student in 2007

Posted Aug. 06, 2013, at 8:18 p.m.
Jason Twardus, of Rochester, N.H., sheds a tear during his sentencing hearing at York County Superior Court in Alfred, Maine on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011.
Pat Wellenbach | AP
Jason Twardus, of Rochester, N.H., sheds a tear during his sentencing hearing at York County Superior Court in Alfred, Maine on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday unanimously upheld the murder conviction of a New Hampshire man in connection with the death of an Alfred nursing student in 2007.

Jason Twardus, 31, of Rochester, N.H., was sentenced to 38 years in prison following a three-week jury trial in September 2010 in York County Superior Court. He was convicted of killing Kelly Gorham, 30, of Alfred in August 2007.

Twardus’ attorney, Daniel Lilley of Portland, appealed Superior Court Justice G. Arthur Brennan’s denial of two motions for a new trial. Lilley argued before the state supreme court in May that evidence supporting the defense’s alternative suspect theory should have been presented to the jury.

“The trial court did not err or abuse its discretion in concluding that nothing presented in support of Twardus’s two motions for a new trial, considered cumulatively, would probably result in a different verdict or create a reasonable probability of a different result, so as to undermine confidence in the jury’s verdict,” Justice Warren Silver wrote for the justices.

Gorham went missing sometime during Aug. 7-8, 2007, according to previously published reports. Her body was found a month later in a shallow grave buried on land in New Hampshire owned by Twardus’ father.

Twardus strangled the nursing student, who had broken off her engagement to him, according to a previously published report.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.

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