It took an Orange County jury fewer than six hours to find Christopher Porco guilty of the murder of his father, Peter Porco and the attempted murder of his mother, Joan Porco, during an overnight ax attack inside the master bedroom of their Brockley Drive home on Nov. 15, 2004.
Jury deliberation began at 10:25 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 10 and by 4:12 p.m. on a warm summer afternoon in Goshen, Orange County, and the foreperson handed a note to Judge Jeffrey Berry and the verdict was read.
On the charge of second degree murder, how do you find the defendant, Christopher Porco? asked Berry.
`Guilty, Your Honor,` said the foreperson.
A guilty verdict was read again on the second-degree attempted murder of Porco’s mother Joan. Jurors one by one repeated aloud `Guilty,` 12 times in front of the defendant and his attorneys Terence Kindlon and Laurie Shanks.
`The verdict was certainly quicker than we expected,` said Kindlon.
Notably absent from courtroom 15 in Orange County Supreme Court where the verdict was read was Joan Porco, who almost died from injuries sustained in the attack. She was resting in her hotel room, and was not alerted in time to be present in the courtroom when the verdict was handed down. She has defended her son and stood by his side throughout the trial.
`We stand before you crushed and profoundly disappointed,` said Kindlon.
The 23-year-old Porco slowly stood up as Berry thanked the jury and adjourned sentencing for Oct. 25. The hand and foot cuffs were placed on the prisoner and he was sent away through a side door as two young female friends of Porco hugged and sobbed as they watched him be escorted away by police.
Bethlehem Det. Christopher Bowdish and Bethlehem Police Chief Lou Corsi were inside the courtroom when the verdict was read, as was Patty Szostak, the sister of the late State Appellate Judge Law Clerk Peter Porco.
`I have very mixed feelings,` said Szostak. `This has been a long haul for our family and very tragic. I have to trust the process, which is what me brother would want.`
Chief Prosecutor Michael McDermott said that although he was pleased by the verdict, the outcome is very sad.
`I don’t know what is going to happen to Mrs. Porco from here on out,` said McDermott.
The quick deliberation surprised everyone in attendance for a case that went on for over seven weeks. Jurors scattered and ran away from the Albany media corps outside the courthouse parking lot. Local press have been covering the trial on a daily basis since late June. One Porco trial juror honked when a female TV reporter was in the way.
McDermott credited Assistant District Attorney David Rossi for his outstanding legwork leading up to the trial.
`Dave has lived this case from Day 1,` said McDermott.
The Porco murder trial was changed from Albany to Orange County in late June because of the tremendous public coverage of the case.
`It was a big huge inconvenience, but at the end of the day, it probably worked out in our benefit,` said McDermott.
Everyone from Albany County District Attorney David Soares to McDermott to Corsi said the people of Albany County should be proud of the Bethlehem police department and the state police for their hard work in the investigation.
`The people back home should feel some gratitude for the people who make them safe,` said McDermott.
Soares said the Porco case is an Albany County tragedy.
`This case has had a devastating impact on our community,` said Soares.
Bowdish took exception to some of the comments made by the defense team during the trial.
`A lot of things were said that were totally unnecessary,` said Bowdish.
`They were not ethical and they did not show respect.`
Bowdish said he will travel to the graves of the late Bethlehem Police Detectives Anthony Arduini and John Cox this weekend to honor their hard work and efforts when they alive on this exhaustive 22-month investigation.
Porco will be sentenced on Wednesday, Oct. 25. He could face a total of 50 years to life in prison on both second-degree murder and attempted murder counts.
Prisoner Christopher Porco left the courthouse just after 7 p.m. through a side door in yellow Albany County inmate clothes. He sat in the backseat of a county sheriff’s car with Sheriff James Campbell riding in the front seat. His yellow Jeep Wrangler that was seen by two different toll collectors on the night of the murder was parked alone in the middle of the back lot at the Orange County courthouse late Thursday night.
Joan Porco, at the same time, was seen inside the lobby of the Comfort Inn Hotel in Goshen on the phone as other friends and family members sat nearby.
It was not clear when Christopher’s brother Johnathan Porco received word of the verdict. He serves in the Navy and is inside a nuclear submarine at an undisclosed location.“