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Porco jury screening: four questions; Judge expects trial this week

— Jury selection began Monday in the Christopher Porco murder trial in Orange County Supreme Court in Goshen. Porco is accused of killing his father and severely wounding his mother with an ax inside their Brockley Drive home in Delmar in 2004.

The trial was moved from Albany to Orange County last week by a state Appellate Court in Brooklyn because of the intense media surrounding the case, and the problems it could pose in picking a jury in Albany County.

"It has been an inconvenience," said Michael McDermott, assistant Albany County district attorney and chief prosecutor in the case. "Everybody working on the trial has been in Goshen since last Wednesday."

Judge Jeffrey Berry scheduled three different rounds of jury pre-screening over a two-day period. The first 80 prospective jurists walked into the courtroom around 10:45 a.m. only to be followed minutes later with close to half the 80-member jury pool excluding themselves from the trial because of time constraints.

"Our biggest hurdle is to find jurors willing to sit from four to six weeks," said McDermott.

One potential juror who identified himself only as Jose said he was from Newburgh, worked in Connecticut and knew nothing about the case.

"My boss didn't take it very well when he heard I was on the jury," he said.

Berry asked potential jurors four questions:

Do you have the ability to serve as a juror for a trial that could last up four to five weeks?

How many people have heard about the case?

How many people, because of the nature of the crime, cannot be a fair or impartial juror?

How many people for any other reason feel they cannot be fair or impartial?

A handful of people raised their hands to be excused because they had already heard about the case.

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