After six weeks, 70 witnesses, and over 440 items of evidence, Marshall Gokey, the prosecution’s last witness, testified that he saw a yellow Jeep matching the description of Christopher Porco’s outside 36 Brockley Drive in Delmar when the crimes against Peter and Joan Porco occurred. Christopher Porco is on trial for the murder of his father, Peter, and the attempted murder of his mother, Joan Porco, who survived critical injuries.
The vehicle in question was in the driveway when I left that morning, said Gokey on Wednesday, Aug. 2.
The eight men and four women of the jury, along with Joan Porco, the mother of the defendant, listened intently in the courtroom as Chief Prosecutor Michael McDermott asked Gokey to recall that Nov. 15, 2004 morning.
`It was a typical morning,` said Gokey. `I always look around. I am very aware of what’s around me when I leave.`
Gokey now lives in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and lived at 53 Brockley Drive with his wife and stepson in 2004. He told jurors he would get up very early every Monday morning during that summer and fall to drive south on the state Thruway to a job two hours and 20 minutes away. Gokey worked in Bethel, Sullivan County, as construction manager for a project called Bethel Woods.
`I would leave anywhere from 3:45 a.m. to 4 a.m., somewhere in that area,` said Gokey.
Prosecutors have spent several weeks through witness testimony explaining to the jury that Christopher Porco drove his yellow Jeep Wrangler from the University of Rochester campus late Sunday evening Nov. 14, 2004, along the Thruway to Delmar to sneak inside his family’s house and murder his parents while they were asleep with an ax. The prosecution’s case until Gokey testified has been based largely on circumstantial evidence. Gokey was shown a photo of the outside of the Porco house, and asked to testify where the Jeep was located that morning.
`It was parked a little bit over to the right of that vehicle,` Gokey said, pointing to one of the Porco family cars. `You could see the back of the Jeep.`
McDermott then showed the construction manager a picture of Christopher Porco’s Jeep Wrangler.
`Yes sir,` said Gokey. `I can see it pulling up in that driveway, it’s the same vehicle.`
Gokey was referring to the many times he noticed a yellow Jeep speeding along Brockley Drive.
`Probably six to eight months prior to that date, I would see a Jeep with a young kid driving it, who liked to drive fast up and down the street,` Gokey said.
McDermott ended his direct questioning, allowing Defense Attorney Laurie Shanks the opportunity to poke holes through the prosecution’s key witness in the murder trial.
`You said you saw a Jeep Renegade,` said Shanks.
`It’s a Renegade-style Jeep,` said Gokey.
`There are no street lights on Brockley Drive,` said Shanks.
`There are no city lights,` Gokey said.
`You had your headlights on,` asked Shanks.
`My high beams were on, yes,` said Gokey.
`When police came to see you, did they show you a group of different Jeeps or did they hand you a picture of one Jeep?` asked Shanks.
`They showed me a picture of a yellow Jeep, and asked me if this looked like the one I saw in the driveway,` said Gokey.
`They didn’t show you an array of photos,` Shanks continued.
`No ma’am,` Gokey stated calmly.
Attorneys for the defense allege that the Bethlehem police department did not bother to interview other witnesses, nor did they conduct a thorough crime investigation because their one and only suspect was Christopher Porco. It was Gokey who contacted police a few days following the 36 Brockley Drive crime to tell them that he saw the yellow Jeep the morning the attacks occurred.
`I think Mr. Gokey was a very good witness for the people, and I think the jury liked his testimony,` said McDermott during a break in proceedings.
Shanks asked many other questions of Gokey during her cross-examination, including a series of questions regarding a pump station just off of Brockley Drive.
`I think she is trying to establish that it would be better for an assailant to park at the pump station so the vehicle would be hidden,` McDermott said. `Mr. Gokey never talked about seeing a car at the pump station.`
Shanks said an investigator will testify on Thursday and jurors will understand why she asked so many questions about the pump station near Brockley Drive.
The trial broke for lunch and when jurors returned around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 2, they learned that Gokey was the last witness for the prosecution.
`Your Honor, the people are prepared to rest,` said McDermott.
Moments later, Defense Attorney Terence Kindlon filed a motion asking presiding Judge Jeffrey Berry to dismiss the trial due to lack of evidence against his client. Berry denied the motion.
`It’s been a long trial, but the end is in sight,` McDermott said. The trial is expected to wrap up early next week. The defendant, Christopher Porco, is charged with the murder of his father, Peter Porco, and the attempted murder of his mother Joan Porco.