The verdict in the trial for two men accused of plotting to escape custody from a St. John’s psychiatric hospital is expected Dec. 20.
Matthew Francis O’Quinn (left) and Kenneth Edward Green are pictured in provincial court in St. John's today. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram
The trial for Matthew O’Quinn and Kenny Green wrapped up today in provincial court in St. John’s, with lawyers presenting their final arguments.
O’Quinn and Green are charged with conspiring to escape custody from the Waterford Hospital.
O’Quinn, 37, was at the hospital at the time to be evaluated as a possible dangerous offender after being arrested for break and enters and an assault on a woman on the west coast of the province.
Green, 35, was there undergoing a week-long psychiatric evaluation after being arrested for the beating death of Joey Whalen on Tessier Place in the capital city March 13. He faces a second-degree murder charge.
Several staff members from the Waterford Hospital testified as to what they say happened the night of March 27 and the days before.
Several of them told the court that O’Quinn and Green had gone to bed with their street clothes on under their pajamas. They also had their sneakers on in bed. When staff searched their room, they found a number of bed sheets tied together, stuffed inside a pillow case. They also found a shoe lace in O’Quinn’s sneaker. It had a slip knot tied in it.
Crown prosecutor Sheldon Steeves told the judge that with all the evidence presented, “the only reasonable inference” to make is that the men were pre-arranging their escape.
However, Green’s lawyer Randy Piercey said there was no evidence to prove without a reasonable a doubt the men were plotting to escape.
He said the fact that the men wore their street clothes under their pajamas was not considered unusual at the hospital.
“Other people do it,” he said.
Piercey added, “you can’t convict on possibilities.”
He suggested that the staff at the Waterford likely had a heightened sense of awareness for the men, since they were facing serious charges, and because of that, they jumped to conclusions about what was happening.
“People at the Waterford were scared to death and every little thing these men did, they think, ‘Oh my God, these men are going to try to escape.’”
O’Quinn, who represented himself after he fired his lawyer, pointed out that both he and Green were on constant watch, yet no one ever heard any reference to them discussing an escape plan.
“All I can say is there was to conspiracy, there was no intent,” he said.
Judge Lois Skanes is on the bench.