Verdict in Green, O’Quinn case set for Dec. 20
Hospital staff jumped to conclusions in suspecting two men of trying to escape lawful custody, the lawyer for one of the men said Monday.
“People at the Waterford (Hospital) were scared to death,” Randy Piercey said during closing arguments in the men’s trial at provincial court in St. John’s.
“And every little thing these men did, they’d think, ‘Oh my God, these men are going to try and escape.’”
Piercey represents Kenneth Edward Green, who is charged with Matthew Francis O’Quinn of conspiring to escape lawful custody from the Waterford Hospital last spring.
The men were patients at the hospital at the time.
Green, 35, was there undergoing a weeklong 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.
O’Quinn, 37, had been there for more than a month for evaluation as a possible dangerous offender after he was arrested for break and enters and an assault on a woman on the west coast of the province.
Staff members, including several nurses, from the Waterford Hospital testified during the trial as to what they say happened the night of March 27 and the days leading up to it.
Many 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 on O’Quinn’s bed. Nurses also found a shoe lace in O’Quinn’s sneaker, with a slip knot tied in it.
Piercey said the female nurses who testified had a heightened awareness of Green and O’Quinn while they were patients at the hospital because of the serious nature of the charges they faced.
He said the fact the men wore 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 said the tied-up sheets were found on O’Quinn’s bed and “you can’t pin that on Green.”
O’Quinn represented himself, having fired his lawyer just before the trial started last month.
He pointed out both he and Green were under constant watch while at the hospital, yet none of the staff heard any reference of them discussing an escape plan.
“All I can say is there was no conspiracy, there was no intent,” he said.
However, Crown prosecutor Sheldon Steeves said there were many instances during their stay at the hospital that would lead any reasonable person to conclude the men were plotting to escape.
He pointed out the pair were “joined at the hip” during their time in hospital. He said O’Quinn was also relaying messages from phone calls to Green and that the two had been watching the security cameras to see where the blind spots were.
He said nurses also noticed the men were more agitated and anxious the night of March 27. Also, he said it was significant evidence that staff found the tied-up sheets and the fact that the men wore their street clothes under their pajamas to bed, as well as their sneakers.
“I can understand the clothes, but the sneakers? That’s taking it one step too far,” he said.
“The only reasonable inference is that this was a joint project.
“It may not have been a well-thought out conspiracy, but it was a conspiracy.”
Judge Lois Skanes is expected to render the verdict Dec. 20.