Newport News, VA – The repeat felon who dragged 24-year-old Newport News Police Department (NNPD) Officer Katie Thyne to her death in 2020 was convicted of the young police officer’s murder late last week.
A Virginia jury deliberated for just two hours before convicting Vernon Green on charges of hit-and-run and second-degree murder on Nov. 17, WVEC reported.
“We wanted justice for Katie, and we got that today,” Officer Thyne’s aunt, Cassie Thyne-Fenlon, told the news outlet. “We feel a step closer to closure. It will always be a loss for us and nothing can take that away.”
Green’s sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 17, 2023.
He is already serving a 10-year federal sentence for weapons and drug convictions related to the incident, according to WTKR.
Green faces up to 40 years in prison on the murder charge.
Officer Thyne, a mother of one, was killed exactly one year to the day from the time she began attending the law enforcement academy, WVEC reported.
She had previously served in the U.S. Navy, according to WAVY.
The fatal encounter began in the 1400-block of 16th Street at approximately 6:47 p.m. on Jan. 23, 2020, WAVY reported.
Officer Thyne and a second Newport News police officer responded to the area due to a report of drug activity, NNPD Chief Steve Chief Drew said during a press conference the following day.
After removing a passenger from the suspect vehicle, the officers turned their attention to the driver, who was later identified as Green, WAVY reported.
Officer Thyne was standing inside the open driver’s side door when Green suddenly stomped on the accelerator, Chief Drew said.
The officer was unable to back away from the car in time, and was dragged for approximately one block before the vehicle slammed into a tree, pinning her.
“She was in between that door and that tree,” Chief Drew explained.
Green attempted to flee the scene on foot, but he was apprehended after a brief chase.
Officer Thyne was rushed to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries.
Green testified during his trial that he didn’t intend to kill Officer Thyne and that he was just trying to escape because he was a felon and had an illegal firearm in his vehicle, WAVY reported.
He also admitted on the stand that he had been smoking marijuana when officers first made contact with him, and said he knew Officer Thyne was standing right beside his vehicle when he hit the accelerator, according to WVEC.
“I take off and I felt like… Officer Thyne on me,” he said.
But he continued driving anyway.
“I can’t believe that a human being can be so cold,” Thyne-Fenlon said of Green’s testimony, according to WTKR. “He didn’t have an ounce of remorse. He ruined so many lives and he doesn’t have remorse for it.”
Officer Thyne’s daughter, Raegan, is now four years old.
“She’s like a little mini-Katie,” Officer Thyne’s brother, Tim Thyne, told WMUR. “She’s just surrounded by love. She’s happy all the time. And it’s nice. It’s nice to see that just reminds you of her daily.”