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Joan Porco's neurologist testifies

Joan Porco's neurologist after surgery testified that her nonverbal yes and "no" answers to a Bethlehem police detective the day she was attacked tell nothing about her state of mind.

Dr. Mary Dumbovy, chair of neurosurgery and rehab at Unity Health System in Rochester, said it is impossible to tell what Mrs. Porco understood after detective Christopher Bowdish asked if her son Christopher committed the terrible crimes against her and her husband on Nov. 15, 2004.

"Mrs. Porco was gravely injured, and there was not a question asked to allow me to determine if her answers were reliable responses," said Dumbovy.

Christopher Porco is charged with killing his father, Peter Porco, and attempting to murder his mother, Joan Porco, as they were sleeping in their bedroom.

Because Joan Porco was so severely injured when paramedics arrived on the scene at 36 Brockley Drive, a mental status exam to determine her memory after the attacks was never administered.

"Could her memory be accurately assessed at that point when she was found?" asked defense attorney Laurie Shanks.

"It would not be possible to do a complete cognitive assessment because she was critically injured," said Dumbovy.

Under cross-examination by chief prosecutor Michael McDermott, Dumbovy conceded that even though Joan Porco could not speak because of broken bones in her jaw, it is possible she heard what paramedics and police were asking her.

"Did you review the paramedics report?" asked McDermott.

"Yes," answered Dumbovy.

"Did you know Mrs. Porco pulled down her nightshirt when police and paramedics arrived demonstrating she was aware her nightgown was up above her underwear?" McDermott said.

"Yes," answered the doctor.

McDermott asked the neurologist if it was possible for Mrs. Porco to understand that she was not alone and that four other people were in the room at the time she was injured.

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