BANGOR, Maine — Tammy Cole uncurled her fingers for reporters outside the Penobscot Judicial Center shortly after the man who shot and killed two of her three sons was convicted of two counts of murder.
In her palm, was the medallion Cole, of Biddeford, said she had clutched during the week-and-a-half-long trial of Rory Holland, the man charged with murdering 19-year-old Gage Greene and his 21-year-old brother, Derek Greene, both of Biddeford, on June 30, 2009.
Holland, 56, of Biddeford sat quietly between his lawyers about 5 p.m. Wednesday when a Penobscot County jury announced it had found him guilty of murdering the two young men.
The faces of her dead sons were etched on one side of the medal, which is shaped like the “dog tags” worn by soldiers. On the other side were the dates of their births and deaths.
“I’ve kept it in my hand ever since the trial started for good luck,” she said. “One of the boys’ best friends had it made for me and gave it to me on the anniversary of their deaths. “It gave me the strength to say, ‘Don’t quit. Don’t give up.’”
The brothers’ mother and other family members burst into sobs as the verdict was announced. Many of her sons’ friends, some of whom witnessed the murders, cried openly.
“Everyone will know my boys died as heroes,” Cole said outside the courthouse after the jury was dismissed. “Now they can rest in peace.
“I feel like skipping all over this town and screaming, ‘We won! We won! We won!’” she told reporters at an impromptu press conference. “That man will never step foot out of jail again. I’m ecstatic.”
The jury rejected Holland’s claim of self-defense.
Defense attorney Clifford Strike of Portland told jurors in his closing argument Wednesday morning that Maine law allows a person to use deadly force if he reasonably believes he cannot retreat from a confrontation with complete safety. Strike said the tall fence in front of Holland’s property made it impossible for him to withdraw from a confrontation that included the Greene brothers and four or five of their friends.
Strike also said that Holland was afraid of the Greene brothers and their friends — whom he referred to in his closing as “the Greene gang” — due to an incident on May 12, 2009. Biddeford police that day charged Derek Greene and another man with assaulting Holland in front of officers, according to testimony.
Witnesses also testified that Greene hit Holland several times while Holland was on his front porch before police arrived.
Derek Greene’s bail conditions forbade him from having contact with the man accused of killing him. He went out of his way to avoid Rory Holland, Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, who prosecuted the case, said in her closing argument.
“Rory Holland executed these boys,” the prosecutor said. “Derek and Gage Greene did not deserve to die. Rory Holland had multiple options that night. If he’d taken any one of them, these boys would still be alive. Rory Holland engaged in vigilante justice.”
Strike said the Greene brothers and their friends avoided Holland when they were sober but not when they were drunk.
“Rory Holland was acting reasonably,” Strike said. “He was surrounded by a pack of drunken young men.
“Wolves run in packs,” he continued. “A single wolf will run from a confrontation, but the pack will act in concert. These young men acted in concert. They were six or seven mad drunken wolves.”
Marchese called the defense team’s strategy “selective self-defense.”
“The defense has tried mightily to prove Rory Holland was circled by this group of kids and had no option but to shoot,” she said. “If that’s the case, why aren’t Brandon Bernardini and Kurtis White dead? Selective self-defense is no self-defense at all.”
Bernardini and White testified last week that they saw Holland pull a handgun from his waistband and shoot the brothers. The two men also said that they partied with the brothers on the night of June 29, 2009, and into the early morning hours of the next day.
Both testified that they saw Holland first shoot Gage Greene in the chest after he allegedly pushed Holland outside the older man’s home, then turn the gun on Derek Greene when he ran to assist his brother.
The jury of eight women and four men deliberated nearly 3½ hours after listening to testimony for 6½ days.
The trial was moved to Penobscot County from York County earlier this year due to pretrial publicity.
Superior Court Justice Roland Cole said the sentencing would be held at the York County Courthouse in Alfred. A sentencing date has not been set.
Holland faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. Under Maine law, he would qualify for a life sentence because he murdered two people.
Marchese said after the verdict that she expected Holland would spend the rest of his life behind bars. She said she would ask that a “substantial” sentence be imposed but was not specific about what her recommendation to the judge would be.
Co-defense counsel Amanda Doherty told reporters outside the courtroom that Holland was disappointed but prepared for the guilty verdicts. She also said the verdict would be appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which is not unusual in murder cases.