Photos from the 2006 Christopher Porco murder Trial. The trial was moved from Albany County to the Orange County town of Goshen.
An out of area judge has been assigned to the murder case of Brockley Drive resident and law clerk Peter Porco, if it ever makes it to trial.
Assistant District Attorney Dave Rossi said it’s not unusual for judges to be assigned cases before indictments. In the Porco case, where, on Nov. 15, 52-year-old Peter was killed in his home and his wife, Joan, was found upstairs from him severely beaten, there hasn’t even been an arrest.
There has been a judge assigned, prepared to handle the case, if there ever is a case handed up, Rossi said. `It will be an out of area judge, just to avoid any potential conflicts.`
Peter Porco was a longtime friend and law clerk for Supreme Court Judge Anthony Cardona. Cardona spoke at his funeral and spoke to Peter Porco on the phone the day before he was found dead in his home.
Rossi said he couldn’t give the name of the judge or what county the judge works in. A grand jury has been investigating the death of Peter Porco. After a three-week hiatus, the grand jury reconvened in January, after the jurors’ terms were extended and has been on hiatus since then.
`There’s still no date (set when the grand jury will meet again),` Rossi said. `I can’t really comment about the grand jury.`
The assignment of an out-of-area judge does not rule out a change of venue, Rossi said, noting a change of venue is a motion that would have to be filed by attorneys before the trial.
A court officer from the New York State Appellate Court, where Peter Porco served as Judge Anthony Cardona’s law clerk, showed up at the Porco’s 36 Brockley Drive residence on the morning of Nov. 15 when Peter Porco failed to report for work. Joan Porco was found upstairs from her deceased husband, with trauma to the head and body, police have said. Joan Porco was alert before she was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
She remained at an Albany hospital for weeks, with her family keeping vigil beside a police presence before she was transferred to Sunnyview Rehabilitation Center in Schenectady before Christmas.
Meanwhile, Bethlehem Police continue their investigation, according to Lt. Thomas Heffernan.
Recently, area news organizations reported that the Bethlehem Police were trying to contact a man in Maryland in conjunction with the Peter Porco case.
`We’ve been working outside of the Capital Region since Day 1,` said Det. John Cox. `There’s been recent attention to Maryland, that’s been ongoing for several months. We’ve also been (tracking down leads) in other areas of the state, Massachusetts, Vermont, Florida.`
Neither Heffernan nor Cox would comment on what, if anything, they’ve been able to rule in or out because of the interviews with individuals out of state or the Capital District area.
Cox said police spoke by phone to an individual in Florida and a state trooper in Vermont set up an interview with another individual there.
`Other agencies have been assisting us,` Heffernan said, calling the investigation `widespread.`
Rossi, Heffernan and Cox wouldn’t characterize the investigation, which toppled the three-month mark recently, as long. Rossi noted investigations in the DA’s office that have been active since the 1970s.
`Just because we can make a phone call, it’s still time consuming,` Cox said. `We need statements. Several other outside agencies to follow up.`
Heffernan said the Bethlehem Police `expect to make a trip to Rochester in the near future,` to conduct more interviews.
The Bethlehem Police said they interviewed a teacher in the Bethlehem Central School District who knew of a threat against the Porco family about 15 years ago.
`Absolutely part of our investigation is ruling people out,` Cox said. `Because of Mr. Porco’s position, there may be enemies out there, and, obviously, it’s our job to locate them.`
Chris Porco and his 23-year-old brother, Johnathan Porco, who is in the Navy, were called persons of interest at the beginning of the investigation. Both were interviewed by police. Chris Porco’s Jeep Wrangler was seized by police for processing after they traveled to Rochester the day of the discovery of Peter Porco’s body. Chris Porco’s attorney, Terence Kindlon, have said the police made Chris Porco’s Jeep `undrivable,` from processing it.
`The seats were torn apart, seatbelts were missing. They took gas out because they wanted to weigh it,` Kindlon said recently. Kindlon said that as Chris Porco was putting his Jeep back together recently, he found a GPS device on that car, which prompted him and Kindlon’s investigator to look for similar devices on Chris Porco’s mother’s car, which he’s been driving. Another GPS system was attached to that car, Kindlon said.
Bethlehem Police have never publicly called Chris Porco a suspect in the attack on his parents.
Interviews with Chris Porco ended when Terence Kindlon, whose services were retained by 21-year-old Chris Porco’s family, advised him not participate in any more police interviews.
`What a person of interest is someone we want to talk to, who may have information useful to us, not necessarily a suspect or not a suspect,` Cox said.“