The New York State Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s decision in the case of Christopher Porco, the man convicted for the murder of his father and assault of his mother with an ax inside their Bethlehem home.
Porco’s appeal was focused on his mother’s affirmative head nod given shortly after the assault in 2004, when police asked her if Christopher Porco was responsible for the attack. The appeal stated that admission of the head nod as evidence violated a constitutional right, however, the court determined that the evidence did not sway the jury in either direction.
In the decision released Tuesday, Oct. 18, the court said that “even assuming, without deciding, that the testimony about the nod was constitutionally infirm, any error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.” Porco’s mother testified in court that she could not remember the head nod or the attack.
The court’s ruling cites “overwhelming evidence” that placed Porco at the family’s home at the time that the crimes were committed. That evidence included video recordings from traffic cameras, which showed Porco driving from the University of Rochester, where he was attending school, to the Capital District hours before the crimes, the de-activation of the family’s home alarm system shortly beforehand and the testimony of a neighbor, who said he saw Porco’s yellow Jeep Wrangler leaving his parent’s home close to 4 a.m the morning of the attacks.
Christopher Porco is serving 46 years to life in prison at the Clinton Correctional Facility in the Adirondacks. The decision by the state’s top court effectively eliminates the opportunity for another appeal within New York.