Elaine LaForte, D.V.M., close friend and employer of Christopher Porco, was the last witness to testify for the defense in his murder trial scheduled to conclude on Wednesday, Aug. 9.
LaForte, co-owner with John Kearney, D.V.M., of the Bethlehem Veterinary Hospital in Glenmont, testified that on the day of Peter Porco’s murder and the attack on Joan Porco, she and her partner Kearney requested Christopher stay at their home in Glenmont.
I told multiple people I wanted to know when Christopher got into town, said LaForte. `I went to the (Bethlehem) police station and met Officer Charles Rudolph who wanted to talk to me about the case. I just wanted to know when Chris was coming in and that I would wait at the police station until he arrived.`
LaForte testified that Christopher has been living with her family since December 2004.
`Christopher lives in our study, which has been transformed into a bedroom,` said LaForte.
Joan Porco is also living with LaForte and Kearney and LaForte’s two sons, along with the Porco family dog, Barrister.
LaForte’s testimony in the Porco murder trial was brief, unlike her lengthy testimony in pre-trial when much of the discussion centered around the late Bethlehem Det. Anthony Arduini and his alleged dislike of Christopher Porco. Information elicited from LaForte by Porco’s attorneys in pre-trial revealed that Arduini’s two daughters both knew Christopher Porco, and according to Kindlon, both dated Porco. None of that information was allowed in Tuesday by Judge Jeffrey Berry, forcing Defense Attorney Laurie Shanks’ questions about the deceased detective to be minimal. LaForte did say that Arduini showed up at the veterinary hospital on the day of the crime, asking many questions about Porco’s whereabouts.
`He told me there had been a homicide, and that Peter Porco was dead and Christopher’s mother was severely injured,` said LaForte. `They wanted some contact information about Christopher, and asked if he was depressed or on drugs.`
LaForte said it was shortly after her meeting with Arduini that she called her good friend, the late Judge Joseph Cannizzaro, to inform him that she would be Porco’s guardian. LaForte and Kearney then went to 36 Brockley Drive to pick up Barrister, the family dog, to provide a home for him as well.
LaForte and Kearney hired Porco to work at their vet hospital in 1999, and since then developed not only a close working relationship, but also a friendship with Christopher and Joan Porco,
`I never knew Peter well at all, other than being Christopher’s father,` said LaForte. Joan Porco was also an acquaintance until the crime in November 2004.
`Joan and I have become friends since the attack,` said LaForte. `She’s a good person, and we have a close relationship now.
Testimony elicited from Kearney on Monday by Chief Prosecutor Michael McDermott revealed that a lot of the work at the vet hospital was bloody and messy, and Christopher many times would clean up after these `bloody messes.` LaForte on Tuesday said she handles most surgeries at the vet hospital, and not all operations leave behind a bloody trail.
`My surgeries are not messy and bloody, thank you very much,` LaForte said.
The prosecution had no questions for LaForte, and witness testimony ended at 3:17 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 8 in Orange County Supreme Court in Goshen.
The Christopher Porco murder trial has lasted eight weeks ` 21 court days including jury selection. Closing arguments were expected to begin at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 9, and last through the afternoon, followed by a charge to the jury by Judge Jeffrey Berry. The jury is expected to deliberate daily Monday through Friday, beginning at 8:45 a.m. and concluding at 6 p.m.. Jury deliberations could begin as soon as the end of the day on Wednesday, Aug. 9.
`I think the case went much better than we thought,` said McDermott. McDermott said he takes exception to the defense’s accusations of shoddy police work.
`This was a top-notch investigation by the Bethlehem police department and the state police,` said McDermott. `I don’t see any stones they left unturned.`
Shanks said she felt the defense case was `terrific.`
`Finally, after two years, the people will see the real Christopher Porco and the real Porco family, not the one spun by the Bethlehem police department,` Shanks said.