January 10, 2013

Tammy Cole, mother of murdered brothers, gamely pushes on

PORTLAND — Even from prison, Rory Holland continues to affect the life of Tammy Cole, whose two sons Holland shot to death on a street in Biddeford in 2009.

click image to enlarge

On Wednesday, January 9, 2013, Tammy Cole, mother of Gage and Derek Greene is suing Rory Holland for the murder of her sons. Here she listens to testimony from the first witness. Trial was continued when Rory Holland, who was going to represent himself and was in prison in Thomaston, was going to be about two hours late and the Cole did not want to wait.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Attorney for Tammy Cole, Scott Giese, begins the trial by questioning the first witness. Trial was continued when Rory Holland, who was going to represent himself and was in prison in Thomaston, was going to be about two hours late and the plaintiff did not want to wait.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

Cole was in Cumberland County Superior Court on Wednesday for the final hearing in the wrongful-death lawsuit she has partially won against Holland.

She spent the days leading up to the hearing mentally preparing to face her sons’ killer one last time, with Holland acting as his own attorney and able to cross-examine her.

Cole won a summary judgment in the case in December, when a judge found Holland liable for the deaths of her sons, Derek and Gage Greene.

Wednesday’s hearing, scheduled for 2 p.m., was for Cole and others to testify and for the judge to determine what damages to award.

But 2 p.m. came and went without Holland’s arrival.

Justice Andrew Horton said he had word from the court clerk that Holland had initially decided not to attend the hearing and declined to be transported from the state prison in Warren, where he is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole.

“Then later I was informed that Mr. Holland hadn’t decided one way or another,” Horton said. “The court set up transport to bring him here if he chose to be here.”

With no information on whether Holland would attend, the judge started the hearing without him. Only one person testified before the judge stopped it to say he had learned that Holland had decided to attend.

A judicial marshal told the judge that Holland had boarded a transport vehicle at 1:30 p.m. in Warren, in Maine’s midcoast, and was on his way. Court closes at 4 p.m.

Cole’s attorney, Scott Giese, asked the judge to postpone the hearing. Horton consented and said a new date will be determined.

Cole prepared for the worst, leading up to the hearing.

In an interview at her home Sunday, she said the lawsuit against Holland has never been about the money.

“It won’t be much,” she said.

Cole said she expects to get half of whatever Holland gets from his prison canteen fund, money to buy things like toothpaste.

She wants to deprive him of everything she can, for the lives he took. But it hadn’t dawned on her that Holland would represent himself and be able to confront her in court.

“I’ve always been OK with the wrongful death suit coming forward. I wasn’t prepared that I’d have to see him,” Cole said.

She said she emotionally collapsed after her sons’ murders on June 30, 2009, and it has been a long, slow process for her to recover. “I never left the house. I wouldn’t even go to the grocery store by myself,” she said.

Cole saw a psychologist, depended on her counselor and took a pill to just prepare herself for any emotional encounter.

At the worst stage, she was taking pill after pill to get through the day, leaving herself over-medicated, unable to work and closed indoors with her grief.

Cole’s sole surviving son, Shawn Carson, was her crutch through those dark days.

While his mother struggled through her grief, Carson, now 25, took care of it. He organized the wake and funeral, picked out coffins for his little brothers.

“It was pretty tough,” Carson said. “Nothing was real until I saw them in the coffins.”

He said he had to put his grief aside in the beginning, though he knew his brothers better than anyone, and took care of his mother.

As a single mother, Cole had done everything she could to raise her three sons and give them everything she could. After the murders, she was the one who needed help, and Carson took over as the provider in the shattered family.

(Continued on page 2)

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