Judge Jeffrey Berry handed out the maximum sentence on one count of murder and one count of attempted murder against 24-year old Christopher Porco for killing his father Peter and severely injuring his mother Joan.
Porco will serve a minimum of 25 years and a maximum of life in state prison on the first count of murder. The second count of attempted murder includes a period of incarceration of 25 years.
In sentencing you today, I must make you understand because I fear very much what happened in the early morning hours of November 2004 is something that could happen again, said Berry.
`This act is the worst act a child could commit to his parents,` Berry added.
Berry did not grant any leniency to Porco in his sentencing, even though Joan Porco pleaded with the court to use that discretion.
`I know my son, and he could not have committed these very violent acts,` said Joan Porco, reading from her victim impact statement. `I am respectfully requesting a lenient sentence for my son.`
Patty Szostak, the sister of Peter Porco, read her own victim impact statement, saying the crimes against Peter and Joan Porco has `left my family decimated.`
`Not a day goes by when I do not experience the impact of this crime,` Szostak read as she choked back tears `This crime was the coldest, most barbaric act any human being can commit against another.`
She added that her family has been robbed of a chance to watch Peter realize his own dreams and to `grow old together.`
Michael McDermott, chief prosecutor in the case for Albany County, read a statement from Peter Porco’s mother Jane Porco Whelan.
`I do not fully understand what happened to my grandson, and I hope and pray that he can be cured, but unless that happens, he must not be allowed to kill again,` read Whelan’s statement.
Christopher’s brother, Johnathan Porco, walked into the courtroom holding his mother’s arm and taking a seat in one of the front rows. Christopher never looked back at his family when he walked away, but was allowed to remove his handcuffs after entering the courtroom so he could read his own statement.
`I will be the first to admit I have made some mistakes in my life and that I have not always been honest to my friends and family,` said Christopher Porco. `Ultimately, I have faith in the system my father held so dear.`
The former University of Rochester student and Bethlehem Central High School graduate, who a jury said attacked his mother and father with an ax while they were sleeping in their Brockley Drive, Delmar, home, said he misses his dad and worries about his mom.
`My heart aches for my mom,` said Porco. ‘She is the strongest person I know and has helped me carry on day to day,` Porco said.
Judge Berry said the jury has spoken.
`I am not setting that verdict aside,` said Berry. ‘You were provided with a fair trial.`
A trial, according to Berry, that did not allow into evidence Porco’s other acts of crime, including past burglaries at 36 Brockley Drive, forged documents, and other prior bad acts.
`Items I let the jury see proved to be what I felt was a powerful circumstantial evidence case,` said Berry.
Members of the Bethlehem Police Department, including the lead detective on the Porco murder case, Christopher Bowdish, was inside the courtroom along with Police Chief Lou Corsi and Albany County District Attorney David Soares.
`The people of Albany County should be proud of their public servants today,` Soares said.
Soares endured heavy criticism early in the investigation for not charging any suspect with the crime. The first-term district attorney said he was not surprised by Christopher Porco’s statement read in court.
‘There was no show of remorse from day one and no acceptance of responsibility,` Soares said.
Defense Attorney Terence Kindlon said the most important thing for the court to understand is that his client did not commit the crime.
‘Our client, Christopher Porco, is simply not guilty of the crimes that were committed,` said Kindlon, who also asked Barry to impose the minimum sentence.
The defense team of Kindlon and Laurie Shanks will be appealing the decision. McDermott said he is confident the Appellate Court will uphold the decision.
`I hope this is the last act in this tragedy,` said McDermott.
Porco will have to serve at least 21 years of his first 25-year sentence before he begins serving another 25 years on the count of attempted murder.
`He will be close to 70 before he is even eligible for parole,` said McDermott.
In her victim impact statement, Joan Porco had quietly asked the judge to allow her son to be free in her lifetime. “