March 10, 2010

Pain fuels anger as family hears killer's sentence


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John Patriquin/Staff Photographer This is a two-line cutline ... ohn Patriquin/Staff Photographer; Friday, August 21, 2009. Maine assistant attorney general Lisa Marchese makes a point during the sentencing of Steven Cutting (far right) with his attorney Randall Bates. Cutting got 10 years for the killing of William Greenwood in Portland in 1995 in Cumberland County Superior Court today.

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Steven Cutting reacts in court Friday after Justice Robert Crowley sentenced him to 10 years for the 1995 killing of William Greenwood, 36, in Portland. At left is Randall Bates, Cutting’s attorney.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Staff Writer

PORTLAND — For more than 14 years, Billy Greenwood's family waited for a day of justice, for the person who killed the 36-year-old and left his body behind a truck depot to be punished.

That day finally came Friday, when a Cumberland County Superior Court judge sentenced Steven Cutting to 10 years in prison.

But that sentence -- and the possibility that Cutting will get out of prison in about six years if he gets credit for good behavior -- did not bring the closure that the Greenwood family had sought.

It was simply not enough for them, and as the words of the judge sank in, 14 years of pain quickly boiled over.

Moments after Justice Robert Crowley handed down the sentence and adjourned court, a few of Greenwood's relatives became enraged. In the court hallways, one relative had to be restrained by judicial marshals and was hauled out of the building. One marshal was hurt and had to be taken to the hospital Friday afternoon to be treated for minor injuries to his face and ribs.

The confrontation set off a brief period of chaos that spilled from the courthouse onto Newbury Street. Judges in other courtrooms abruptly halted proceedings as every marshal responded to the second floor around 11:30 a.m.

Other relatives of Greenwood's, not knowing what was happening, panicked when they saw the court officers running through the hallways. Several family members exchanged words with the marshals, who were ordering them to leave.

Portland police officers arrived on Newbury Street with two sport utility vehicles and three cruisers. No arrests were made and no one was injured, and emotions cooled within about 15 minutes. As they left, some family members shook hands with the officers and apologized for what had happened.

Officers later escorted Cutting's relatives and friends from the courthouse to the parking garage across the street.

Mary Ann Lynch, director of court information for the Judicial Branch, said Chief Justice Leigh Saufley and Michael Coty, director of the judicial marshals, met on Friday afternoon in Portland. They will conduct a full review to determine whether any security changes need to be made.

Saufley has been concerned about courthouse safety in recent years, as budget constraints have forced the courts to freeze open positions and to scale back on entry screening. The metal detectors in Portland were staffed Friday, but are often left unmanned.

Lynch said that late on Friday, officials were still trying to determine how the marshal was injured. She didn't know whether any charges would be filed.

The sentencing hearing was tense from the beginning as the Greenwood and Cutting families were directed to opposite sides of the courtroom around 9 a.m.

Two of Greenwood's brothers and three of his four children addressed the court. They all spoke directly to Cutting.

''Steve, about 15 years ago you took my father from me when I was 15 years old,'' said William Greenwood. ''All I want is for you to see some pain.''

With clenched fists, Greenwood swore at Cutting and told him that he wanted nothing more than to kill him. Rick Greenwood, a brother, was ordered out of the courtroom by Crowley after he threatened harm to Cutting when Cutting gets out of prison.

Billie Jo Greenwood, 18, said she never got the opportunity to know her father.

''I didn't go to any father-daughter dances. I wasn't given a chance to be daddy's little girl,'' she said.

Billie Jo Greenwood, who is pregnant, also mentioned her unborn child and how her father will never know the grandchild.

Cutting, who never was even a suspect in the cold case, came forward last summer with a confession. He admitted shooting Greenwood with a rifle in the early morning of April 30, 1995, and pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter at a hearing earlier this year.

Police never even heard his name until the weekend of Aug. 16, 2008, when Portland detectives got a call from Cutting's ex-wife, who worked for the Androscoggin County Sheriff's Office. She said Cutting had confessed to the shooting.

Cutting met with Portland detectives. He told them that he picked up Greenwood in his car after 1 a.m. in the area of Portland's Deering Oaks park. Cutting said he thought he knew Greenwood, but then realized after he picked him up that he did not.

He said he drove Greenwood to his apartment and smoked marijuana with him. Cutting claimed that Greenwood made a sexual advance, and became belligerent when he turned it down. Cutting said he told Greenwood that he would give him a ride home, but brought his hunting rifle for protection, carrying it in his lap.

Cutting told police that he pulled over behind Mack Trucking on Warren Avenue, dropped Greenwood off and told him to find another way home.

Cutting said that as he stepped out of the car to put the firearm in the trunk, Greenwood threatened to take his rifle and kill him. He said he threatened to shoot Greenwood if he didn't back off, and fired one shot when the victim stepped toward him.

Greenwood died of a gunshot wound to the chest. Cutting told police that he meant to shoot Greenwood in the shoulder.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese asked for a 30-year sentence with all but 25 years suspended. That sentence would have kept Cutting in prison for about the same length of time that the Greenwood family waited for an arrest in the case, Marchese said.

She said Cutting did not deserve to be rewarded for being clever enough to get away with the crime, and then coming forward so many years later. She also suggested that it was Cutting who made a sexual advance, which might have sparked their argument.

Cutting's defense lawyer, Randall Bates, asked for a 15-year sentence with all but nine years suspended, to be followed by four years of probation. Crowley's actual sentence -- 15 years with all but 10 years suspended, and four years of probation -- was almost identical.

''If he had not come forward, we would not be here,'' Bates said. ''All the factors here were on the side of a mid- to low-level manslaughter.''

Carroll and Barbara Cutting said they are still in shock that their nephew committed the crime. They describe him as a quiet, polite person with not a mean bone in his body.

''Over all these years, I never saw or heard of any aggressive side to Steven,'' Barbara Cutting told Crowley. ''I believe with all my heart that Steven would not have pulled that trigger unless he had feared for his life.''

Cutting himself apologized to the Greenwood family.

''There are obviously no words in the English language to express how sorry I am,'' Cutting said.

Crowley said some of Cutting's statements to police were ''confused, inconsistent and incredible,'' but that Cutting's story was the only version of events available to the court for use in sentencing.

The judge said the fact that Cutting confessed without any prompting by law enforcement was the key mitigating factor in sentencing. Crowley also noted that Cutting had an excellent employment record; most recently, he had worked as a counselor for adults with mental health problems.

''He confessed to a crime that was unsolved, and would have remained unsolved if not for his confession,'' Crowley said.

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

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Additional Photos

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Members of the Greenwood family are consoled by Deputy Marshal Joe Rich on Friday outside the Cumberland County Courthouse. Some relatives’ reactions to Steven Cutting’s sentence set off a confrontation and turmoil that spilled out onto Newbury Street.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Portland police officers were called to the scene and judicial marshals responded from other rooms to quell the disturbance at the Cumberland County Courthouse. One marshal had to be treated at a hospital for minor injuries to his face and ribs.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer


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