A toll ticket, a videotape, a nod, and a Miranda Rights issue are at the heart of the evidence being decided in the murder trial of Christopher Porco.
Porco is charged with killing his father Peter Porco and attempting to murder his mother Joan Porco with a firemen’s ax as they were sleeping in their bedroom the early morning hours of Nov. 15, 2004 on Brockley Drive in Delmar.
The prosecution team, led by Albany County Assistant District Attorney Michael McDermott, believes Porco drove from the University of Rochester late Sunday night, Nov. 14, 2004, arriving in Delmar in the early morning hours of Nov. 15, cut the wires to the home security alarm and went upstairs while his parents were sleeping to attack them.
Judge Jeffrey Berry has already told both prosecutors and the defense team led by Terence Kindlon what evidence can stay and what can be thrown out when the trial begins in July. At The Spotlight’s press time this week, the decisions had not yet been made public.
It is believed a six-and-a-half hour videotape made by Bethlehem Police the night after the killings will be excluded by the judge. The taped interrogation was made inside the squad room of the police department after Christopher Porco voluntarily decided to meet with police after arriving at Albany Medical Center to see his mother Joan who was in critical condition at the hospital.
Porco was never read his full Miranda Rights but initialed a document given to him by police advising him of his rights. A lawyer and close friend of Peter Porco, John Polster, told the court during pre-trial testimony he was acting as Porco’s attorney at the time of the interrogation and was not allowed to see his client. Police maintain that on the videotape Porco denied having an attorney.
Another new key piece of evidence is a toll ticket that prosecutors believe matches the ticket Porco used to drive from Rochester to Albany and back the night of the murder. In a year and a half time span, the ticket has traveled from the Rochester toll booth to the Albany Thruway Authority Headquarters, to a State Police lab for DNA testing back to the Bethlehem Police Department where it sat sealed in an evidence room before reappearing in a lab in Pennsylvania for more DNA testing this year. Initial DNA tests were not conclusive but a later mitochondrial DNA test matches Porco’s fingerprints, according to prosecutors. Mitochondrial DNA links people to their mothers.
Kindlon is alleging that the late Anthony Arduini, a police detective with the Bethlehem Department, tampered with the toll ticket evidence by showing it to potential witnesses working at the Thruway Authority while investigating the crime.
`I don’t want to sound like some wild-eyed conspiracy theorist but sometimes evidence gets planted,` Kindlon told the judge. `We have grave concerns that Det. Arduini may have contaminated that ticket with DNA he had from Christopher’s shirt.`
The shirt Porco was wearing was taken as evidence the night police questioned him.
The reason Kindlon believes this is because Porco dated both of Arduini’s daughters and was dating the younger daughter at the time of the attack.
`We know that the morning of the murder Det. Arduini went directly to Bethlehem High School to see if his youngest daughter Chelsea hadn’t run away with Christopher,` said Kindlon.
Arduini recently died and Assistant D.A. McDermott called Kindlon’s allegations `reprehensible.`
`Det. Arduini had nothing to do with that ticket,` McDermott said.
Another key piece of evidence witnessed by four people the morning after the attacks is that Joan Porco may have nodded `Yes’ when asked by police whether her son Christopher had committed the crime. That evidence along with other circumstantial evidence involving Christopher Porco’s financial affairs and prior robberies of the Porco family home leading up to the attacks, is considered key for the prosecution.
Jury selection begins in Orange County on June 26 and the trial begins immediately after the jury is seated. The trial was moved out of Albany County because of a crush of pre-trial publicity. The anticipated extra costs to Albany County because of the trial being moved is expected to be around $300,000.