The defense in the Christopher Porco murder trial made an attempt to cast reasonable doubt into the minds of jurors based on a pathologist’s testimony of Peter Porco’s time of death.
Pathologist Dr. Jeffrey Hubbard was called on Thursday, July 27 as an expert witness for the prosecution regarding the autopsy he performed on the murder victim. By the end of the day’s testimony, Hubbard told the jury that, as coroner at the scene of the crime, he estimated that Peter Porco’s time of death was anywhere between the hours of 1:30 and 6:30 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 15, 2004.
This proves it is impossible for Mr. Porco to have killed his father, said Defense Attorney Laurie Shanks to Judge Jeffrey Berry, who decided to allow Shanks to ask questions regarding time-of-death calculations.
Hubbard arrived at the scene of the crime at 36 Brockley Drive in Delmar at about 1p.m., and based his time-of-death calculations on the body temperature of the murder victim combined with outside factors such as room temperatures, outside temperature and weather.
`The calculations I did do not meet my own standard of a reasonable degree of certainty,` said Hubbard.
Shanks said Christopher Porco was last seen at the University of Rochester on Nov. 14, 2004 at 10:30 p.m., and even if jurors believed he drove the length of the Thruway to get to 36 Brockley in Delmar, he would not be able to arrive until at the very least 1:30 ` 2 a.m. Witnesses have testified that Peter Porco wandered about the house after his injuries, and Shanks said if Hubbard’s calculations are accurate, then Christopher Porco did not commit the crime.
`If you combine his testimony of the time of death with the fact that Peter Porco lived for several hours after the attack, the reality is that Christopher Porco did not kill his father,` Shanks said.
Chief Prosecutor Michael McDermott said Shanks’ theory did nothing more than perplex jurors.
`I completely disagree with their position, and I think jurors were totally confused by it,` said McDermott.
Hubbard also detailed 10 grisly autopsy photos of the murder victim as jurors and courtroom observers looked on. The pictures of the deceased Peter Porco showed vicious ax wounds to his skull, face, jaw, under both arms and various lacerations on his hand and forearm.
`Dr. Hubbard, can you tell me whether or not the ax depicted is capable of producing these wounds on the body of Peter Porco?` Shanks asked.
`All of the wounds are consistent with having been created by this weapon,` said Hubbard.
One wound from the ax attack was so severe it created a 1-inch slice from the skull to the brain. The autopsy photos were viewed on a large wall-sized screen just above where the defendant Christopher Porco sits. Friends and family members of Peter Porco, including his sister Patty Szostak, and Julia Cannizzaro, who worked with Peter Porco as a confidential secretary in the Third Appellate District Court in Albany were visibly shaken by the photos.
Earlier in the day, Janet Hoin from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services testified as an expert witness in the field of latent fingerprints. Hoin said one of the fingerprints in the basement of 36 Brockley Drive lifted from the scene of the crime on Nov. 15, 2004 matched the left-hand pinky finger of Christopher Porco, who is on trial for murdering his father and attempting to murder his mother.
`Does the known fingerprint of Christopher Porco match the latent fingerprint on the basement door?` asked McDermott.
`Yes,` said Hoin.
McDermott said the 36 Brockley Drive home was kept in immaculate condition, and he believes the print of Christopher Porco was made the night of the crime.
`It is not one piece or item that makes or breaks the case,` McDermott said. `This is just another piece of the puzzle and we will put all the little pieces together.`
Christopher Porco’s bank records and statements were also entered as evidence. The records are from accounts the defendant held at HSBC bank and American Express. Lawrence Dean, an employee of Sprint PCS, was asked to look up the cell phone records of Christopher Porco to see if he made any calls to his parents Peter and Joan on Nov. 15, 2004, the day the attacks occurred.
`Were there any outgoing calls on this record for Nov. 15?` asked Assistant District Attorney David Rossi.
`No, there were not,` Dean answered.
The murder trial will conclude its fifth week on Friday. The prosecution is expected to conclude its case by early next week.