BANGOR, Maine — An Arundel man testified Friday at the Penobscot Judicial Center that less than four hours before Rory Holland allegedly shot and killed two brothers on June 30, 2009, Holland said he would be better off in jail than he was living in his South Street home in Biddeford without heat, electricity or water.
Joseph L. Donegan, 38, said that he encountered Holland between 9 and 10 p.m. on June 29, 2009 when he stopped at the Boston Connection, a convenience store in the neighborhood where Holland, 56, lived. Donegan said he stopped in to visit his friend, store owner Ernie Bouras, 48, of Biddeford.
The Arundel man told the jury he knew Holland but did not know the shooting victims, Gage Greene, 19, and his brother Derek Greene, 21, both of Biddeford.
“[Holland] seemed pretty agitated about his home,” Donegan said. “I told him to pay his bills and do what he had to do to get the power and water back on. He said that people in jail have free cable TV, three square meals a day, a warm place to sleep and their clothing provided to them.”
Donegan, who is a self-employed auto technician, told jurors that he suggested Holland go across the street, throw a rock through the window of the rental store there and wait for the police to arrive. The witness said Holland did not respond to his suggestion.
Holland, 56, was charged last year with two counts of intentional or knowing murder in the shooting deaths of the Greenes about 1 a.m. on June 30, 2009, outside Holland’s two-story home. Holland has claimed he fired the 9 mm Glock linked to the brothers’ deaths in self-defense.
He pleaded not guilty last year. Testimony in the trial began Monday. The prosecution is expected to rest after calling one additional witness, who also will tell jurors Holland felt he would be better off in jail, Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese said after court adjourned Friday afternoon.
Defense attorney Clifford Strike of Portland said his client would decide over the weekend whether to testify in his own defense. If he takes the stand, the trial is expected to continue through the end of next week, but the case could go to the jury Tuesday or Wednesday if he does not.
On Friday, Donegan also testified that while he and Holland were at the Boston Connection, Donegan saw a man he later learned was Derek Greene enter the store, open the cooler, grab a six-pack of beer, then set it down, close the cooler and leave. Other witnesses testified that Derek Greene left the store when he saw Holland was there.
Derek Greene and another man had been arrested on May 12, 2009, for assaulting Holland, according to prosecutors. Greene’s bail conditions forbade him from having contact with the man now accused of killing him.
Also on Friday, a woman who lived across the street from Gage Greene told the jury that about six weeks before their deaths she heard Rory Holland threaten a group of young men that included the Greene brothers.
Deborah White, 47, of Biddeford testified that on May 13, 2009, she saw Holland and another black man walking down Williams Court, the street on which her family and Gage Greene lived. She testified that Holland pointed out her home and Gage Greene’s apartment to his companion.
Sometime after May 13, White said, she overheard Holland tell the group of young men, including the Greene brothers, that “he knew where they all lived and that they’d get theirs.” She said the young men in the neighborhood tended to hang out at the end of Williams Court in front of her house.
White, who is not related to Kurtis White, an eyewitness to the shooting who testified earlier this week, said she did not recall exactly when Holland made the alleged threat but that it was after the May 12 incident.
In addition, White testified that the Greene brothers and two others had been by her house about 11:30 p.m. June 29, 2009. She said they did not appear to be intoxicated.
“They were hanging out, wrestling with my husband,” she told the jury. “They talked about the plans they’d made to go fishing with him the next day.”
Eyewitnesses to the shootings have testified that they were intoxicated when they saw the Greenes die.
Earlier this week, Dr. Fred Jones of the state medical examiner’s office testified the brothers were drunk when they were shot.
Jones also told the jury that Gage Greene died almost immediately after receiving a single gunshot wound to the chest, according to a previously published report. His brother, Jones said, was shot three times and died on his way to Maine Medical Center in Portland.
Kim Stevens, a ballistics expert with the Maine State Police Crime Lab in Augusta, testified Friday that the bullets recovered from the bodies of the Greenes matched the 9 mm Glock found on a roof at the back of Holland’s home.
No fingerprints that could be used for comparison with Holland’s or any other person’s prints could be recovered from the weapon, Alicia Wilcox, a state latent print examiner, testified.
A state forensic chemist told jurors that she found no rips, tears or bloodstains on the clothing she was given for analysis that was identified as belonging to Holland.
Michelle Fleury also said she found human blood on fingernail clippings taken from the left hand of Gage Greene. The blood belongs to Gage Greene, according to a joint stipulation read to the jury.
In addition, the forensic chemist testified under cross-examination that she did not test the fibers found on the nails to see whether they matched any of Holland’s clothing.
Holland claims to have been the victim of racial harassment while living in Biddeford.
Under Maine law, deadly force is justified if the person who used it “reasonably believed” that such force was necessary to protect his life, defense attorney Amanda Doherty of Portland told jurors Monday.
Fleury’s testimony could be interpreted to mean that Holland did not struggle with Gage Greene before he pulled the trigger.
Holland was arrested about five hours after the shooting after a standoff with police and has been held without bail since his arrest.
The trial was moved earlier this year from York County Superior Court to the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor because of pretrial publicity and Holland’s notoriety in southern Maine.
Superior Court Justice Roland Cole is presiding over the trial. Eight men and eight women, including four alternates, were selected as jurors last week.
If convicted, Holland faces a minimum of 25 years and a maximum of life in prison.