Nearly three weeks after his indictment, Christopher Porco will find out this week if he will be allowed out of Albany County Jail on bail.
After almost an hour of testimony from the defense and prosecution at last Wednesday’s bail hearing, Judge Jefferey Berry of Orange County deferred his decision until this week.
Porco’s lawyer, Terence L. Kindlon of Delmar, continues to insist that Porco is innocent and would not be a flight risk. In an impassioned and emotional argument at the hearing, Kindlon once again pointed out that Porco has stayed in his hometown since the attacks a little over a year ago.
He has not budged from this community, said Kindlon. `He could have lawfully moved anywhere in the last year, but he has stayed. He knew he was under suspicion and wanted to clear his name. His actions have clearly stated that he is not going anywhere.`
In Porco’s defense, Kindlon produced letters from people in the community vouching for Porco’s good character and e-mails from Peter Porco to his son that indicate that their family life was normal and loving, despite rumors to the contrary. He also continued to stress that the prosecution has no clear cut evidence against Porco.
However, Albany County Assistant District Attorney Michael McDermott, in a far less emotional testimony, asserted that despite the outpouring of support from Porco’s friends, family and the community at large, Porco is two-faced and has a history of forgery, burglary, fraud and now, murder.
`People can see that he has no formal interaction with the system, but we have proof of uncharged criminal conduct,` he said.
According to McDermott, the prosecution has evidence that Porco forged a transcript from Hudson Valley Community College, which he attended during the spring of 2004. When he was expelled from the University of Rochester shortly after the attack on his parents, McDermott said Porco sent the transcript, which he changed to show he had aced his courses, to the University of Rochester, where he had hoped to be reinstated.
McDermott said also they have proof the Porco staged a burglary in his home in 2002 and sold a laptop computer on eBay to a customer in San Diego. The computer, given to Joan Porco by Schalmont School district where she was a speech therapist, has been recovered and shown to staff at the school, which vouched that it was hers.
McDermott said there is also proof that Porco has stolen from his employers, Elaine LaForte and John Kearny, who own Bethlehem Animal Hospital in Glenmont, and that he has forged his father, Peter’s, identity to obtain a $31,000 loan and also a loan for his jeep.
`While he is uncharged, he is not the person his friends and family believe he is,` said McDermott. `He’s obviously unconcerned about breaking his family’s trust.’
McDermott argued against bail, reasoning that Porco probably stayed in town because fleeing the area would only confirm the suspicions of police.
`Now that he has been indicted, and looking at a sentence of 50 years to life, that is sufficient reason to flee now,` said McDermott.
He argued that things are different for him now, that his life is not what it once was.
`His father is dead, his mother is living with relatives in Rochester,` he said. `His ties here are tenuous, and he has no financial resources. A life-sentence is very real.`
Both sides of the courtroom were filled with friends and supporters of the Porco family. Kindlon read during his testimony some of the letters he has received defending Porco’s character and asking what they could do to help. Several letter writers stated that they would post bail for Porco.
`This is unprecedented, and in my 32 years as a lawyer, this has never happened,` said Kindlon. `It is a compelling argument for why bail should be granted.`
He also rebutted the prosecution’s testimony of uncharged criminal activity. In an impassioned statement, Kindlon, nearly shouting, said the rumors and innuendo surrounding Porco are outrageous.
`If he has engaged in criminal activity, then prove it!` he said. `Charge him or cut it out!`
Kindlon further stated that the prosecution’s assertion that Porco only stayed in town to avoid suspicion `makes no sense`.
`What can he do or say to convince the District Attorney’s office that he won’t flee?` asked Kindlon.
Several of Porco’s former neighbors on Brockley Drive in Delmar have mixed reactions to Porco’s indictment and about the attacks. Charlotte Meyer, who lives across the street from Porco’s former home, said she and many of her neighbors have become much more cautious in the past year.
`I double lock my doors now, and I even lock my car,` she said. `It was a terrible shock when the attacks happened. This is a pretty quiet neighborhood, and it was really overwhelming. At first we all thought there was an ax murderer on the loose, but now, I’m not so sure. I just hope that if (Proco) gets charged, then they have enough evidence to put him away.`
Another neighbor, who didn’t want to be named, said he and his wife have lived on Brockley Drive for 40 years, and they are not afraid and they are not going to consider moving. His wife agreed.
` I have never felt afraid or threatened while living here,` she said. `I think this was an isolated incident, and I hope the prosecution has a good case against (Porco). We don’t like this kind of thing, but this area has changed, and expanded.`
Another neighbor, who also didn’t want to be named, said she just recently moved to Brockley Drive last May, but despite hearing about the attacks, it did not sway her and her family’s decision to move in.
`I’m from New York City, and I know that bad things can happen,` she said. `I don’t feel threatened. Until recently, no one really I knew really talked that much about it. I just hope they get the right person.`