March 10, 2010

Murder suspect accused of prior death threats


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Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer: Rory Holland talks with his attorney Clifford Strike during Holland's initial appearance in York County Superior Court in Alfred on a charge of two counts of murder in connection with a shooting that occurred outside Holland's Biddeford home on Tuesday.

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Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD — Rory Holland, the man formally charged Wednesday with shooting to death two brothers in Biddeford, was charged this spring with threatening to kill his lawyer and his ex-girlfriend, who has been in hiding out of state since she left him.

Holland, 55, is being held without bail at York County Jail pending a hearing next week in which the state plans to urge a judge to keep him in jail until his trial on two counts of murder.

Holland appeared in York County Superior Court to face charges he shot to death Gage Greene, 19, and Derek Greene, 21, outside his house at 58 South St. early Tuesday.

Court papers quote witnesses saying that the Greene brothers were walking home at 1 a.m. when Holland and Gage Greene started arguing on the sidewalk in front of Holland's house. Gage Greene pushed Holland, who then reached into his waistband, pulled out a small black gun and shot the 19-year-old in the chest, the court papers said.

Derek Greene, who was walking on the opposite side of the street because he was barred from having contact with Holland, rushed to his brother's aid. Holland immediately shot him in the chest and the abdomen, according to the State Police affidavit used to show that police had probable cause to arrest Holland.

Appearing in court Wednesday in a suit and tie, Holland told Justice Roland Cole that he understood the charges against him. Clifford Strike, of Strike, Goodwin and O'Brien, will represent him but Holland also asked that Thomas Connolly assist in his defense.

Connolly is representing Holland in an appeal challenging an earlier conviction in a criminal mischief case, based on the argument that because there were no black people in the jury pool he could not get a fair trial. Holland said in court Wednesday that similar issues could come into play in the shooting case.

Holland is stunned and in shock, his lawyer said Wednesday. Strike described Holland as a very intelligent man who is not squeamish about asserting his rights.

''I expect him to be a very active participant in his defense,'' Strike said.

Holland has been a confrontational figure in Biddeford, having frequent run-ins with the law, neighbors and others.

Neighbors had complained Tuesday that they had wanted police to arrest Holland before.

But Biddeford Deputy Chief JoAnne Fisk said Wednesday that police arrested and charged Holland when he broke the law. If cases were dismissed by prosecutors or the court, that was not because police did not bring charges, she said.

In his most recent arrest before Tuesday, Holland was charged on April 28 with terrorizing when he allegedly threatened his own lawyer, Eric Cote.

Cote was representing Holland in a civil dispute with his former girlfriend, Susan Varney, and had agreed to help Holland for no fee because he believed Holland was ''down and out.''

Biddeford Detective Shawn Cloutier said in court papers that, according to Cote, Holland threatened him before a scheduled hearing, saying: ''If things don't go my way I will put a bullet in Susan's head and in your head.''

Cote, who could not be reached Wednesday, told Varney's lawyer that ''in case he was found with a bullet in his head, he wanted someone to know who did it,'' according to court papers filed by Varney's lawyer, Amy Robidas, of Zerillo Law in Portland.

Varney said in court papers she was terrified by the threat because of her history with Holland. She had fled the state in 2007 and gone into hiding, but Holland had found her address in court paperwork.

According to her civil complaint, filed in 2007, Holland and Varney developed a relationship after the death of her husband and eventually he moved into her house on Brackett Street in Biddeford.

According to the complaint, Holland became abusive and controlling, at one point threatening to kill her if she did not put his name on the deeds to her property. The complaint said Holland physically and emotionally abused her, at one point choking her against the wall and holding a razor to her neck.

The April terrorizing charge has not yet been adjudicated.

On Wednesday, cruisers escorted the transport van as Holland was brought from the county jail to the courthouse, and four sheriff's deputies hustled him into the building, a higher than usual level of security.

Holland was allowed to appear in civilian clothing after his lawyer persuaded Justice Roland Cole that wearing the jumpsuit required in jail would bias potential jurors.

A handful of young men and women, friends of the Greenes, attended the hearing.

A hearing to determine whether Holland can be held without bail was set for next Wednesday. Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese said the state will fight aggressively to keep Holland behind bars until trial.

Marchese said there is little mystery to the case.

''They were simply walking down the street on their way home,'' Marchese said of the Greenes. ''I don't know why (Holland) was out there.''

The affidavit quotes two of the Greenes' friends describing the events.

The young men had been drinking and were headed to Gage Greene's home at Williams Court, which took them past Holland's house, the affidavit said.

Derek Greene had been charged with assault after a May 12 altercation with Holland. Derek Greene said Holland had touched him in a sexual manner, according to the affidavit.

Kurtis White told police he saw Gage Greene and Holland confronting each other in front of Holland's house.

Gage Greene then pushed Holland and Holland pulled a gun and shot him, White and another witness, Brandon Bernardini, said in the court papers.

White went to help, but said Holland pointed the gun at him and told him to back up.

Derek Greene approached and Holland shot him, White said.

Holland holed up in the house for several hours until he surrendered to a tactical team at 6 a.m.

The brothers were pronounced dead at Southern Maine Medical Center.

Strike said Holland has been the target of past racial harassment, including graffiti on the fence in front of his house and people marching in KKK costumes in front of his home.

Near the scene of the Greenes' death, Triniti Gregoire, 15 was keeping a host of candles burning at a flowered median which had become a memorial.

''These are my friends and they're going to be missed by a lot of people,'' she said. She had attended a Tuesday vigil, gone home briefly and returned to keep the candles burning.

''They never disrespected anybody unless you disrespected them first,'' she said.

Taylor DeGuay, 17, said she didn't believe it when she heard the brothers had been killed. She had spoken with Derek Greene the day before and they had planned to hang out together Tuesday.

''He had given me a hug and told me to behave myself,'' she recalled. ''He was the life of everything. He always knew how to get a smile.''

The two brothers were inseparable, she said, tears welling as she spoke about Derek Greene running to his brother's side.

Mike Gagne, 18, said he grew up in Saco with the Greenes. They were well-known because Biddeford is still a small town, he said.

He said their death should make young people work to avoid hazards, rather than feeling the need to be the tough guy.

''I was telling the younger kids I don't want to be out here another night, wondering what their last words were,'' Gagne said.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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Additional Photos

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer: Rory Holland talks with his attorney Clifford Strike during Holland's initial appearance in York County Superior Court in Alfred on a charge of two counts of murder in connection with a shooting that occurred outside Holland's Biddeford home on Tuesday.

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Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer: Police were still investigating inside Rory Holland's house at 58 South Street in Biddeford on Wednesday, July 1, 2009.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer: Triniti Gregoire, 15, lights a candle at a makeshift memorial to Derek Greene and Gage Green along South Street in Biddeford on Wednesday, July 1, 2009.

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Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer: Rory Holland stands in court next to his attorney Clifford Strike during Holland's initial appearance in York County Superior Court in Alfred to face a charge of two counts of murder in connection with a shooting that occurred outside Holland's Biddeford home on Tuesday.

Gregory Rec


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