Christopher Porco

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Christopher Porco
Born(1983-07-09) July 9, 1983 (age 29)
Charge(s)Second degree murder, 1 count
Second degree attempted murder, 1 count
Penalty50 years to life imprisonment
Conviction StatusIncarcerated in Clinton Correctional Facility DIN:06A6686
OccupationCollege student (at the time of the murder)
ParentsPeter Porco
Joan Porco
 
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Christopher Porco
Born(1983-07-09) July 9, 1983 (age 29)
Charge(s)Second degree murder, 1 count
Second degree attempted murder, 1 count
Penalty50 years to life imprisonment
Conviction StatusIncarcerated in Clinton Correctional Facility DIN:06A6686
OccupationCollege student (at the time of the murder)
ParentsPeter Porco
Joan Porco

Christopher Porco (born July 9, 1983) is a convicted murderer; he was convicted of killing his father and attempting to murder his mother on November 15, 2004. He was tried in Goshen, Orange County, New York, on charges of second degree murder in the murder of his father, Peter Porco, and second degree attempted murder in the severe wounding and disfigurement of his mother, Joan Porco, in Delmar, New York .[1]

The trial was moved to Orange County after a New York State appeals court ruled that a change of venue was necessary to ensure Porco received a fair trial because of the intense media pre-trial coverage in the Albany area.[2] Orange County criminal court justice Judge Jeffrey G. Berry, who presided over the trial, allowed still cameras (no sound or video) in the court during the proceedings, a rarity in New York State, which gives judges great discretion over the electronic recording of cases. The Judge did allow video taping of the summations of both defense and prosecution lawyers. The announcement of that verdict was also video taped.

The case against Porco received extensive coverage in local newspapers including the Times Union and The Spotlight as well as in local television outlets. The case was also the subject of a one-hour documentary on 48 Hours Mystery entitled "Memory of Murder," broadcast by CBS on November 4, 2006, as well as an episode of the TruTV series Forensic Files that originally aired on July 17, 2009. This attention may be due to the grisly nature of the murder as well as emails between Porco and his parents in the months leading up to the attack, which have been made public. The emails detail tension caused by Porco's academic problems and careless spending. Perhaps most interesting to those following the case is the fact that a badly scarred Joan Porco maintained her son's innocence throughout the trial and accompanied him to many of his criminal proceedings.

Contents

Background

On Monday November 15, 2004, a New York State courts officer was ordered to the home of Peter and Joan Porco. Peter, a State Appellate Division court clerk, had not reported to his Albany office for work that morning. Upon entering the two-story home at 36 Brockley Drive in Delmar, the officer discovered Peter's lifeless, blood-soaked body near the front door. An Albany County medical examiner would determine that Peter, 52, had sustained massive head injuries causing his death.[3] Joan Porco was soon discovered by police officers. She was lying in the couple's blood-drenched bed and had suffered severe head and facial trauma. Joan would lose her left eye and a portion of her skull.[4]

A fireman's ax belonging to the Porcos and used in the attack was found in the couple's bedroom.

As Joan was rushed into emergency surgery, Bethlehem Police quickly focused their investigation on the younger of the couple's two sons, Christopher, then a student at the University of Rochester, 230 miles westward. Less than two hours after authorities arrived at the scene of the attack, an all-points bulletin for Christopher was issued. [5]

Christopher Porco was at the University of Rochester when his parents were discovered. He was accidentally notified of the attack by Simone Sebastian, a reporter at the Times Union who attempted to contact Porco's roommate with questions about the family. [6]

That evening, Porco returned to Delmar and was questioned by Bethlehem Police detectives about the attack.[7]

Prosecution case

In the months following the attack Porco's attorney Terence Kindlon criticized investigators, saying they were focusing narrowly on Christopher Porco as a suspect.[8] Shortly after the attack, Bethlehem Police detectives were dispatched to the university to inverview Porco's fraternity brothers and friends and to determine his whereabouts during the early morning hours of November 15.

In late November, 2004 outgoing Albany County District Attorney Paul Clyne convened a grand jury to hear testimony implicating Christopher Porco in the murder. Some of those who were reported to have testified in the closed-session hearing included Porco's friends from college, a University of Rochester campus safety officer, as well as a former girlfriend.[9] The Grand jury would field more testimony, and stretch months before finally handing up an indictment against Christopher in November 2005, one year after the attacks.

Identification

Christopher Bowdish, a Bethlehem Police detective, stated that as medical personnel attended to Joan Porco at her home, he took a moment to ask her if she could identify her attacker. Bowdish said that when he asked Joan if a family member had done it, Porco used her head to indicate "yes". Bowdish has maintained that when he asked her if it had been her older son John, a Naval officer stationed in South Carolina during the attack, she shook her head indicating it was not but nodded her head up and down indicating "yes" when he asked her if Christopher was responsible.[10] Joan Porco's alleged identification of her son Christopher may explain why Bethlehem Police pursued her son soon after the incident, rather than conducting a broader investigation of potential suspects. She also answered in similar ways to other separate questions.

The murder gained greater attention in the Capital District as Joan Porco, emerging from a medically-induced coma, maintained that Christopher had nothing to do with her husband's murder. During videotaped testimony submitted to the grand jury in December 2005 Joan testified about her family but did not identify her son as an attacker. [11] Nine months later, she wrote a letter for publication in the Times Union about Christopher: "I implore the Bethlehem police and the District Attorney's Office to leave my son alone, and to search for Peter's real killer or killers, so that he can rest in peace and my sons and I can live in safety." [12]

Financial problems

It was quickly revealed to the news media that there had been tension between Christopher Porco and his parents involving money prior to the attack. A series of emails disseminated through the press show the growing rift over loans that Christopher took out to pay for his tuition at the University of Rochester as well as to finance a new yellow Jeep Wrangler.

Following the Fall 2003 semester, University of Rochester officials forced Christopher Porco to withdraw from the school due to poor grades. When Porco was readmitted to the university the following year, he took out a loan for more than $30,000 to pay for his expenses, forging Peter's name as a cosignatory. Unbeknownst to his parents, Christopher was attempting to pay for his Fall 2004 tuition with a portion of the $31,000 loan he had received. Earlier in the fall, he had told his parents he had been readmitted to the University of Rochester after the school determined a professor had misplaced his final exam from the previous fall semester. Peter and Joan Porco were under the impression that their son's tuition would be covered by the college.[13]

Less than two weeks before his murder, Peter confronted his son about his dishonesty in an email and reprimanded him: "Did you forge my signature as a co-signer?...What the hell are you doing? You should have called me to discuss it...I'm calling Citibank this morning to find out what you have done and am going to tell them I'm not to be on it as a co-signer."[14]

The following day, Peter Porco was notified that Christopher had also obtained a line of credit from Citibank to finance the Jeep Wrangler. His son had also used Peter's name as a cosignatory to secure the auto loan. Peter once again wrote to his son, who had not answered phone calls from him or Joan in weeks. In an email, Peter warned Christopher that he would not tolerate any more dishonesty: "I want you to know that if you abuse my credit again, I will be forced to file forgery affidavits in order to disclaim liability and that applies to the Citibank college loan if you attempt to reactivate it or use my credit to obtain any other loan,[15]." In the same email, Peter Porco welcomed his son to return to the family's Delmar home to resolve the matter, concluding his message by saying, "We may be disappointed with you, but your mother and I still love you and care about your future."[16]

Porco's movements

Christopher Porco told investigators that on the night of November 14, 2004, he retired to a dormitory lounge at the University of Rochester to sleep and awoke the following morning[17].

Bethlehem Police detectives and current Albany County District Attorney David Soares were steadfast that Porco instead drove more than three hours eastward to Albany in the early morning hours of November 15 to murder his parents.

Marshall Gokey, a neighbor at 53 Brockley Drive, told investigators shortly after the murder that on November 15 before 4 a.m., he spotted a yellow Jeep Wrangler in the Porcos' driveway[18].

Investigators also contacted two New York State Thruway toll booth collectors who reported that they recalled seeing Wranglers matching the description passing through their stations. John Fallon, a toll collector at Exit 46 outside of Rochester, New York recounted seeing a yellow Wrangler with large tires at approximately 10:45 p.m. on November 14. Karen Russell, who collected tolls at Exit 24 in Albany told investigators that she spotted a yellow Wrangler shortly before 2 a.m. on November 15 because of its "excessive speed" upon approaching the toll plaza[19].

Four security cameras stationed at the University of Rochester recorded footage of a yellow Jeep Wrangler fitting the description of Porco's vehicle leaving the campus at 10:30 p.m. on November 14 and returning at 8:30 a.m. on November 15. Prosecutors maintain that the attack on Peter and Joan Porco occurred in the early morning hours[20].

Porco's character

Sociopath

Much attention has been focused on the personality of Christopher Porco. Police contended that he is a sociopath who lied to obtain a car as well as tuition payments[21]. Michelle McKay, a law clerk who worked with Peter Porco, said he had described his youngest son as a sociopath during a conversation with her.[22] Several Albany-area psychologists and mental health professors have stated for the Times Union that Porco's behavior was consistent with that of a sociopath. In particular, they focused on a consistent pattern of lies Porco told to convince acquaintances that he was from a wealthy and influential family.

Burglaries

During the course of their investigation, authorities determined that he had a history of anti-social behavior that included burglarizing his parents' Delmar home. In 2005, Bethlehem Police detectives travelled to San Diego, California to retrieve a laptop computer Christopher Porco had stolen from his parents on July 21, 2003 during a break-in that occurred while he was home from college. Porco had sold the laptop on eBay. Eight months earlier on November 28, 2002, Police contend Christopher also staged a burglary at his parent's home in which he took a Macintosh laptop computer and a Dell laptop computer. A camera reported missing from the burglary was recovered from the couple's front yard.[23] One month before the attack, both Christopher and Jonathan Porco had their eBay accounts frozen because they shared the same Delmar address. Christopher had not sent several customers the items they had paid for from his account. During their investigation it was revealed to prosecutors that Christopher posed as a Porco brother, sending emails to the jilted customers explaining that his brother had died and was unable to deliver on the items.[24]

Forgery

While away on a trip to England in March 2004, Christopher received an email from Joan Porco's account admonishing him for failing classes at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY. In the message, Joan and Peter complained to their son, "You just left and (we) can't believe (our) eyes as I look at your interim grade report. You know what they say, 'Three strikes and you're out.' Explain yourself." The email's subject header was entitled "Failing Grades-You did it again!"[25] Several days later, Christopher replied in a message to his father. Blaming the community college's office of registrar, he wrote, "[B]ut obviously they are incorrect...My lowest grade that I got on anything was a B on a physics test...Don't jump to conclusions, I'm fine."[26] Porco earned readmission to the University of Rochester with a forged transcript from HVCC. Judge Berry has refused to allow prosecutors to use the forged transcripts as evidence in their criminal case against Christopher Porco[27].

Converging factors in the Porco case included the following: fraud against the family, Christopher being confronted about his fraud by his father, and Christopher’s sociopathic traits. A forensic review of the Porco case and other parricide cases that have occurred when fraud detection was a primary factor was published in the forensic literature.[1] The importance of homicide detectives considering fraud detection as a motive during murder investigations and planning an interview strategy of the murder suspect based on the character of the murder suspect has been published in the forensic literature.[2][3][4]

Defense case

Defense attorney Terence Kindlon emphasized that the Bethlehem Police Department had no physical evidence linking Christopher Porco to the attack on his parents. No fingerprints were recovered from the fire ax found at the scene of the crime[28].

In statements to the press and criminal proceedings, Kindlon has suggested that the Bethlehem Police Department had made Christopher Porco's guilt a foregone conclusion. During his opening remarks to jurors on June 27, 2006 Kindlon described the Bethlehem Police as a department "that chases skateboarders away from the 7-11...This is not the FBI[29]."

Kindlon's co-counsel and wife Laurie Shanks has also maintained that police overlooked the possibility that Peter Porco's death was the result of retaliation against his uncle Frank Porco, a captain in the Bonanno crime family in New York City. Frank Porco had served two years in prison for loansharking and extortion, although Shanks incorrectly told jurors that he had been indicted for his involvement in a murder. Shanks noted that Frank Porco's nickname with the mob was "The Fireman" which could have had something to do with the type of murder weapon found, a fire ax. He had served in the New York City Fire Department [30].

Trial and conviction

On August 2, 2006, the prosecution completed its case against Porco, and the defense's case, which was much briefer, began.

In the morning of August 10, 2006, the jury began deliberations. By 5:00 EST, Christopher Porco was found guilty of second degree murder and attempted murder.

On December 12, 2006 Judge Jeffrey Berry sentenced Christopher to 25 years to life on each count totaling a minimum of 50 years in prison. Judge Berry was quoted as saying, "I fear very much what happened in the early morning hours of November 15 is something that could happen again."

Porco was initially sent to Downstate Correctional Facility. On January 23, 2007 he was moved to Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY to serve his prison term.

In popular culture

See also

References

  1. ^ Perri, Frank S., Lichtenwald, Terrance G. and MacKenzie, Paula M. (2008). "The Lull Before the Storm: Adult Children Who Kill Their Parents," Forensic Examiner, 17:3,NCJ # 226976
  2. ^ Perri, Frank S., and Lichtenwald, Terrance G. (2007). "Fraud Detection Homicide: A Proposed FBI Criminal Classification," Forensic Examiner, 16:4,#NCJ 225071.
  3. ^ Perri, Frank and Lichtenwald, Terrance G. (2008). "The Arrogant Chameleons Exposing Fraud Detection Homicides" Forensic Examiner, 17:1, #NCJ 225293.
  4. ^ Perri, Frank S. and Lichtenwald, Terrance G. (2008). "A Tale of Two Countries: International Fraud-Detection Homicide" Forensic Examiner, 17:2, NCJ # 227042.

"http://www.swimdata.info/NYState/NYSBT25Arch.nsf/Sec2T10-02?OpenView&Start=1&Count=2000&Expand=4#4" Section 2 Swimming, information, January 8th, 2009

  1. ^ "Porco killing case set for panel," Times Union, news, December 3, 2004.
  2. ^ "Porco trial sent to new site," Times Union, news, June 16, 2006.
  3. ^ "Porco defense focuses on clock," Times Union, news, July 28, 2006.
  4. ^ "Detective: Joan Porco nodded yes," Times Union, news, July 26, 2006.
  5. ^ "Panel Studies Gambling LinkTimes Union," news, December 11, 2004.
  6. ^ "Jury hears Porco's first words to cops," Times Union, news, December 11, 2004.
  7. ^ "Action Near in Porco Slaying," Times Union, news, January 28, 2005.
  8. ^ "Action Near in Porco Slaying," Times Union, news, January 28, 2005.
  9. ^ "Porco's Actions Probed," Times Union, news, December 4, 2004.
  10. ^ "Detective: Joan Porco nodded 'yes'," Times Union, news, July 26, 2006.
  11. ^ "Wife Testifies in Delmar Slaying," Times Union, news, December 22, 2004.
  12. ^ "Leave my son alone," Times Union, news, August 24, 2005.
  13. ^ http://www.timesunion.com/specialreports/porco/graphics/emails.pdf
  14. ^ "E-mails reveal Porco family rift," Times Union, news, November 18, 2005.
  15. ^ "E-mails reveal Porco family rift," Times Union, news, November 18, 2005.
  16. ^ http://www.timesunion.com/specialreports/porco/graphics/emails.pdf
  17. ^ "Neighbor: Jeep Parked on Front of Porco Home," Times Union, news, August 4, 2006
  18. ^ "Neighbor: Jeep Parked on Front of Porco Home," Times Union, news, August 4, 2006
  19. ^ "Toll collectors recall jeep ," Times Union, news, July 11, 2006.
  20. ^ "Video puts time frame of travel on Porco's jeep ," Times Union, news, July 19, 2006.
  21. ^ "Christopher Porco," Times Union, news, June 23, 2006.
  22. ^ "E-mails highlighted during Porco trial ," Troy Record, news, July 21, 2006.
  23. ^ "Theft tied to Porco probe," Times Union, news, October 29, 2005.
  24. ^ "Joan Porco tells of anger," Times Union, news, August 1, 2006.
  25. ^ http://www.timesunion.com/specialreports/porco/graphics/JoanPorcoEmails.pdf
  26. ^ http://www.timesunion.com/specialreports/porco/graphics/emails.pdf
  27. ^ "Joan Porco tells of anger," Times Union, news, August 1, 2006.
  28. ^ "Porco jury hears opening arguments," Times Union, news, June 28, 2006.
  29. ^ "Porco jury hears opening arguments," Times Union, news, June 28, 2006.
  30. ^ "Police conduct at issue in Porco trial," Times Union, news, July 27, 2006.

External links