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Bethlehem detective testifies; defense likens ax head to horse head

"There is not a tremendous amount of serious crime in the town of Bethlehem, is there?" asked Shanks.

"Actually I wouldn't say that," Bowdish said.

"Is skateboarding a serious crime?" Shanks asked.

Judge Jeffrey Berry, who is presiding over the trial in Orange County, put a quick stop to Shanks' line of questioning.

"I am going to start limiting your cross examination unless it is pertinent," said Berry.

Shanks asked what kind of training Bowdish has in homicide investigations. He said there have been three murders in Bethlehem he has investigated, two in the same year, 2004.

"What you're trained to do is to not contaminate a crime scene," said Shanks.

"That's correct," said the detective.

Shanks then shifted gears and began to ask Bowdish about the 36 Brockley Drive crime scene, where an ax was left in the bed, tucked inside a blanket with Joan Porco lying next to it.

"Did you ever consider it a sign that someone left a bloody ax at the bottom of the bed?" she asked.

"No," said Bowdish.

Shanks then pulled out the morning edition of the local Middletown Times Record where it was reported a horse's head was found at the bottom of a councilwoman's pool, and whether or not an ax left on a bed might be considered symbolic, like the horses head threat. Bowdish said he did not see the similarity.

Later in the day, Shanks asked, "Did you know that Frankie 'the fireman' Porco, (a distant relative of Peter Porco's) was a member of the Bonanno crime family?"

"I had not heard that," said Bowdish.

"Did you know he was charged with loan sharking, racketeering and murder?" Shanks pressed on.

"Investigator Kelly of the State Police followed up that lead," said Bowdish.

"Did you ever speak to Margaret Fennel (Christopher Porco's godmother), and do you know if she stated that Joan Porco told her there was a stranger in the driveway weeks before the attacks and that she was scared?" asked Shanks.

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