NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Vernon Green, found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of police officer Katie Thyne, was scheduled for sentencing Friday morning. Instead, he told Judge Christopher Papile he wanted to represent himself.

Thyne was just 24 in January 2020, and had been with the department less than two years. She was investigating reported drug activity in a park near the Monitor Merrimac Bridge Tunnel.

Green admitted at trial that he had been smoking marijuana and had a gun in the car that day.
When Thyne was questioning Green and asked that he get out of the car, he pulled away and she was caught in his car door. She was dragged about a block and died of her injuries.

Green has already pleaded guilty to federal gun and drug charges connected to the case and was sentenced to ten years in the federal system. He was also found guilty of drug and gun charges in Newport News in 2003, and sentenced to a total of 10 years.

Although Green will go forward pro se and be his own attorney, he will have licensed standby attorney James Ellenson as an advisor.

Green can appeal the guilty murder verdict, the eventual sentence from Judge Papile, or both. The second-degree murder conviction carries a maximum sentence of 40 years.

“I think his biggest argument, as I understand it, is it was an accident on his part. He didn’t have malice and he didn’t mean for the officer to die,” Ellenson said outside the courthouse Friday morning.

Green wants transcripts from his entire trial in November, when the jury needed just two hours to convict him of murder in Thyne’s death.

His next court date is March 31, and has the option of retaining counsel once again if he feels he’s in over his head.

“I give suggestions and advice and, in the end, he makes his own decisions,” Ellenson said. “I think at some point it might turn around that I would become his attorney.”