Noreen Green says her son, Kenny — who is to be sentenced Friday for manslaughter in the death of Joey Whalen — is not the monster the media and the police have made him out to be.
She said among the badges she has seen during court appearances that read “Justice for Joey” should be some calling for justice for Kenny Green.
Noreen Green said the justice system has failed both of them.
“One thing the Whalen family has right is that the justice system sucks,” Noreen Green told The Telegram Tuesday.
“Joey’s father said Kenny ‘slaughtered my son.’ Well, Kenny had a fight with his son. The person who killed his son is still out there and people are too blinded by what the police are saying to see it.
“I never wanted Joey Whalen to die. My heart goes out to that family.”
Whalen, 47, died March 17, 2013, from blunt force trauma to the head. It happened four days earlier at a notorious drug house on Tessier Place in the downtown area of St. John’s.
Kenny Green, 35, had been charged with second-degree murder, but last Tuesday, just as his
trial was set to begin and the jury was ready to enter the courtroom, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Whalen's family was outraged and said Kenny Green will now get what they believe is a slap on the wrist for killing Joey Whalen.
In Newfoundland Supreme Court last Friday, lawyers presented an agreed recommendation on sentencing for Kenny Green — six years, less time served.
With a total of 578 days' credit for pre-trial custody, it would leave four years and five months on his term. And, in federal institutions, offenders can apply for parole after one-third of their sentences are served.
If the judge accepts the proposed sentence this Friday, it means Green could be out of jail in 17 1/2 months.
Noreen Green says Kenny Green had no choice but to take the deal and plead guilty to manslaughter. She said her son was reluctant to do so at first.
“I begged my Kenny to take the deal for manslaughter,” Noreen Green said, wiping tears from her eyes. “He wasn’t going to get a fair trial. There was so much publicity on this case, and in the news, there was no way he was getting a fair trial. I begged him to take it. He didn’t want to.
“He never signed it until the last minute because he told me he was agreeing to something he didn’t do. He never, ever denied having a fight with Joey.
“I wish people would just hear the facts. There was a footprint on Joey’s back. My son is size 13. This footprint was smaller. If Kenny did what he was supposed to have done to Joey, he would have been covered in blood. When the police hauled him in that day, the police officer said there was no blood on him but abrasions on his knuckles.”
Among the facts of the case presented in court, Joey Whalen had suffered multiple blows to his head and body, resulting in lacerations to his forehead, scalp, lips, chin, eyelids and ear. (Lacerations in the agreed statement of facts are described as occurring when tissue is twisted and ripped, resulting in a more irregular tear than a sharp or incised cut to the tissue).
He was also covered in bruises and abrasions and had three fractured ribs.
Kenny Green has admitted he attacked Whalen because he thought Whalen — who had sold drugs for him in the past — was going to "rip him off." In the agreed statement of facts, Kenny Green admits he struck Whalen several times with his fists, and that the force he used was excessive and unreasonable.
But Noreen Green said her son was not the type of person who would go too far, nor use a weapon during a fight.
“If Kenny had a fight, he’d box, that was it. Kenny never carried any weapons,” she said. “My son is a human being. If I thought for a minute he would do something like that (cause injuries to kill someone), I would never condone it. But I would never walk away from him. I would never walk away from my child.”
Members of Whalen’s family weren’t aware Kenny Green would plead guilty to manslaughter until the morning the trial was to start.
Crown prosecutor Sheldon Steeves told the judge that day he would have told the family, but he wasn't advised of the change of plea until shortly before proceedings in court were set to begin.
Whalen’s family has pleaded in public for someone to explain to them why the deal was offered to Kenny Green.
Joey Whalen’s daughter, Brittany Hammond, said last Friday any sentence Kenny Green gets will be far too short.
"My father lay there for four days and they're standing there like Kenny's the victim," Hammond said. "He was a drug dealer and he beat somebody. Why? Because he thought he deserved it? No one deserves that.
"I hate Kenny Green, and you know what? I wouldn't even kill him that way.”
According to the agreed facts, on the day of the incident, Kenny Green drove to the house just before 10 a.m.
Derek Tulk, who lived in the house, told police that after Green arrived, he went upstairs to get money for Green. He heard Whalen come in and soon heard an altercation, as if someone was being tossed around.
When Tulk came back downstairs, he found Whalen face down on the floor. He was badly injured, but still breathing. He said Green was alone in the living room and was covered in blood. He said he offered Green a towel to wipe blood spatter from his face and after that Green left.
Police later found hundreds of blood spatters on the walls. A towel found in the living room did not have DNA matching Whalen or Green’s on it.
Tulk said he couldn't find his cellphone to call for help. About 10 minutes later, he left the house and went to a neighbour to ask them to call an ambulance.
Noreen Green wonders what happened during the period of time after Kenny Green left the house and the ambulance was called. She said other people had gone into the house after Kenny had left.
She also noted Tulk had changed his statement to police over the course of the investigation.
In the agreed statement of facts, police say Tulk had not been candid with them at the beginning of the investigation. It was only after Whalen died that he became more co-operative.
Noreen Green said she believes police “railroaded” her son because he had been busted for weed in the past. She said because of his criminal record, they assumed he killed Whalen and did not want to look elsewhere.
She also alleged that previous cocaine-related charges against Tulk had “mysteriously disappeared.”
However, a check at provincial court found that Tulk received a conditional discharge in July 2013 for a conviction on a charge of possession of cocaine. He had been charged in connection with a September 2012 incident.
Noreen Green said Whalen’s family is convinced Kenny Green killed Joey because “the police are telling them that.”
“You know something? If Joey was alive today, Joey could tell them what the police is like and how conniving they are because he had a few run-ins with them,” she said. “And I think the media goes along with whatever the police say. Whatever the police say, the media writes.
“(Media) are making a big thing about Joey. (The police) never gave a rat’s ass about Joey. That’s one person out of their hair they don’t have to deal with anymore. And Kenny, well that’s another person they will have gone.”
Steeves said he and defence lawyer Randy Piercey opted for the plea bargain of manslaughter and the joint submission on sentencing because there were several issues with the case — no one witnessed the assault, the key witnesses were drug addicts, the 12-minute wait to get help was questionable and the sneaker footprint at the scene did not match Green's.
The sneakers that made the impression in blood at the scene were not found, nor was Green's DNA found at the house.
Steeves said Green may have had a case for self-defence. He said had the case gone to a jury, the outcome likely would have been the same — a conviction on manslaughter.
Piercey said if the case had gone to trial, Green would have had a 60 per cent chance of being convicted of manslaughter, a 20 per cent change of being acquitted and a 20 per cent chance of being found guilty of second-degree murder.
"Twenty per cent is huge," Piercey said, adding that Green, with three children to go home to, "chose certainty over the small possibility (of being convicted of murder)."
Noreen Green said you’d never find a better father than her son.
“He loves his three kids,” she said. “Kenny phoned me for Mother’s Day and he said, ‘Mom, I wish all this drama was over.’
“He’s very soft-hearted. He’d do anything for his friends. That was his downfall. I always told him that.”