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Appeal rests on a mother's nod

Arguments heard in retrial request for Christopher Porco

— “When a mother accuses a son of a crime, it's huge. It's everything you need,” he said to Horn.

Judge Robert Smith wondered if Joan Porco's present lack of memory would be enough to exclude her actions on the night of the attack.

“Isn't that what juries are for?” he asked.

The justices also discussed at length with the two attorneys whether police had the proper cause to question Joan Porco in the first place. Horn said it was clearly an emergency situation and drove police to question her as she lay gravely wounded.

He also defended the nod's classification as an “excited utterance,” saying there was not way Joan Porco could have done anything else.

“I don't think there's a way to stop being excited as you're getting hit in the head with an ax repeatedly,” he said. “You cannot make a calm and reflected utterance under those circumstances.”

Kindlon argued there's no way of knowing what Joan Porco's nod meant. She could have heard Christopher's name and wanted him to be summoned to comfort her, he said. Police testified that she shook her head “no” when asked if her other son, who was stationed at sea at the time, had committed the attack.

The court is expected to render a decision during its next session in October. Porco was not allowed in court today as he's serving a 46-year-to-life prison sentence.

Judge Victoria Graffeo recused herself from the case. The court does not issue explanations for recusals.

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