In an unexpected twist in the middle of testimony Wednesday, William Henry Greene decided to plead guilty to all charges in multiple drugs cases against him, including two felony counts of drug delivery resulting in death for the fatal overdoses of two people in separate incidents in Washington nearly three years ago.
Greene had just heard testimony from Detective Ryan McWreath of the Washington County Drug Task Force in the second day of his trial when he inexplicably decided to plead guilty as the court was preparing to reconvene after lunch.
Greene, 30, of Pittsburgh, was on trial this week for supplying the fentanyl-laced heroin that caused the overdose death of 29-year-old David Chappel on April 17, 2019, in his East Hallam Avenue residence. Greene was also awaiting trial for the fatal overdose of Megan Peacock, 26, in the city on Nov. 5, 2019.
In addition to Greene accepting responsibility for supplying the drugs that killed Chappel and Peacock, he also pleaded guilty to numerous drug delivery and possession charges in six separate cases.
Assistant District Attorney Rachel Wheeler, who prosecuted the case, surmised Greene heard the direct evidence from McWreath and determined he stood little chance of being acquitted in his trial, which began Tuesday and was expected to continue into next week.
“The case was very clear,” Wheeler said after Greene pleaded guilty. “There wasn’t much for him to argue at this point.”
Wheeler said Greene previously was offered a “global plea deal” for all of his drug cases but he turned it down, which made his decision to opt for the “open plea” in the middle of his trial all the more surprising. Judge Valarie Costanzo is set to sentence Greene in Washington County Court at 1 p.m. April 11 in what could be a longer prison term than what he would have faced had he accepted the plea agreement from prosecutors.
“I’ve never seen it happen before,” Wheeler said.
Greene answered questions from Costanzo as she walked him through each charge to which he was agreeing to plead guilty, but he said nothing else and gave no explanation for his decision. His defense attorney, Renee Colbert, declined to discuss why her client changed his mind, but said she consulted with him and he was adamant about accepting responsibility.
“I think he made the decision that he believes was best for him,” Colbert said.
Wheeler said the families of both Chappel and Peacock were notified of the guilty plea, and they will have the opportunity to offer victim impact statements when Greene is sentenced in April.
“We’re very pleased to bring justice for those victims,” Wheeler said. “Both families have been through a lot.”
After the plea hearing, Greene was taken by sheriff’s deputies back to Washington County jail, where he has been held without bond since his arrest in November 2019. Costanzo later met with members of the jury to explain the outcome before she dismissed them.