Lawyers are suggesting Kenny Green be sentenced to six years in jail — less time served — for killing Joey Whalen.
Crown prosecutor Sheldon Steeves and defence lawyer Randy Piercey presented their recommendation today at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.
Crediting Green for the 578 days he has already spent in custody, it would leave him with 4 1/2 years to serve.
Justice William Goodridge will decide whether he agrees with the joint submission next Friday.
Green had been charged with second-degree murder, but on Tuesday, just as his trial was set to begin and the jury was to enter the courtroom, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
The judge dismissed the jury.
Green, 35, of Mount Pearl, was charged after Whalen, 47, died in hospital on March 17, 2013, two days after he was taken there by ambulance from a house on Tessier Place in downtown St John’s.
An agreed statement of facts presented in court on Tuesday revealed that Green had gone to the house on March 13, 2013, and punched Whalen — who sold drugs for him — a number of times because he thought Whalen was going to steal his drug money. He also said he saw a knife in Whalen’s waistband.
Steeves pointed out that there were several issues with the case — no one witnessed the assault, the key witnesses were drug addicts and the sneaker footprint at the scene did not match Green’s. The sneakers that made the impression in blood at the scene were actually 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.
“This wasn’t an easy way out for either side,” Steeves said of the plea bargain, and the agreed suggestion on sentencing. “It was a fair assessment (of the evidence).”
He said their suggested sentence “is proportionate to the culpability and responsibility” of Green.
Piercey said Green “chose certainty over the small possibility (of being convicted of murder).”
In her victim impact statement, read in court, Whalen’s sister Mary Ann Whalen said she will never forget the sight of her brother lying in the hospital bed after the assault.
“It was the most horrifying thing I have ever seen,” she said, holding back tears, adding, “No words can describe the hurt and pain” their family has felt since Joey’s death.
Kelly Hammond — who was Whalen’s partner for more than 20 years — wrote, “Joey meant the world to me,” and “When the love of my life took his last breath, it was the worst day of my life.”
She said his two daughters loved him and will never get over the loss of their father.
Outside court, more than a dozen of Whalen’s family members, including one of his daughters, Brittany, expressed anger at the suggested sentence and broke down crying.
“To me, he was superman,” she said.
This story has been edited to correct a quote.
Kenny Green is escorted out of a courtroom at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John's today following his sentencing hearing. He will be sentenced next Friday. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram