After five weeks of testimony in the Christopher Porco murder trial, the whereabouts of the defendant in the early morning hours of Nov. 15 still remain in doubt.
On Friday, July 28, Porco’s uncle John Balzano said his nephew told him he was sleeping in the student lounge at the University of Rochester’s Munro Hall dorm overnight on Nov. 14 and 15 when the attack on his parents Peter and Joan Porco occurred.
Balzano’s testimony of the defendant’s whereabouts that night in Porco’s own words is consistent with testimony received earlier in the week from Jonathan Porco.
He told me he was at school sleeping in the common room in his fraternity, stated Jonathan Porco to jurors.
Fraternity buddies and residents of Munro Hall in 2004, Joshua Felver-Gant, and Gregory Whiteside already testified they did not see Christopher Porco sleeping in the student lounge that night.
In the days following the attacks, Porco told several students he gave his dorm bed up for an out of town guest from his fraternity, and he would sleep in the student lounge.
Marshal Crumiller is the last person to identify Porco’s whereabouts on Sunday evening Nov. 14, 2004. The two ate dinner at a restaurant close to the campus before Crumiller left Porco at 10 p.m.
Prior testimony Crumiller gave the jury is that Porco was going to do yard work for his aunt and uncle, John and Barbara Balzano, who live in Fairport, a suburb of Rochester. Barbara Balzano earlier testified that Porco never came the next day nor was he asked that day or ever to do yard work for them.
John Balzano stated during pre-trial testimony that he picked up the defendant from school on the afternoon of Nov. 15 and drove him to Albany Medical Center to see his mother Joan Porco, Balzano’s sister.
At the time, Joan Porco was in critical condition and undergoing several hours of surgery to repair damage inflicted by an attacker wielding an ax at 36 Brockley Drive the night before. Her husband, Peter Porco, died from the attack.
Balzano also stated during pre-trial testimony that when he arrived at the campus to drive Porco to Albany `he was very quiet, still, almost dark because I didn’t recognize him.`
Detective Christopher Bowdish testified on Wednesday that an all points bulletin was issued for Porco the afternoon he was a passenger in his uncles’s car.
Before testimony began on Friday, Judge Jeffrey Berry told jurors both the defense and prosecution agreed to allow into evidence the Porco family’s life insurance policy.
`The parties agree along with Christopher Porco himself that Joan and Peter Porco had a life insurance policy on their life and that Jonathan and Christopher Porco were alternate or main beneficiaries on these life insurance policies,` said Berry.
Prosecutors indicated throughout the proceedings that Christopher Porco was in heavy financial debt and would benefit from the death of his parents, Peter and Joan.
DNA expert and forensic scientist, Urfan Mukhtar, performed several DNA tests of swabs extracted from the scene of the crime by police investigators. The evidence shows that all of the samples of fiber, fingernail scrapings, blood or other swabs taken from 36 Brockley Drive after the crime are those of Peter and Joan Porco.
`This was brought into evidence to show that police conducted a very thorough investigation,` said chief prosecutor Michael McDermott. `There was no third party DNA found at the crime scene.
State Police forensic scientist Richard Brunt collected several items of evidence at the Delmar home crime scene and from Porco’s Jeep Wrangler. The items were mostly blood samples and fingerprints, to be swabbed and tested.
`The only area which I did find blood was on the driver’s side floor mat underneath that tested positive for blood,` Brunt said.
Defense attorney Terrence Kindlon said the blood print found in Porco’s car was between the floor mat and carpet indicating it could have been made at any time.
Two wrist watches of Peter Porco’s, a Timex and Seiko, were also thoroughly examined for prints or blood. The Timex band was found broken as if cut by an object such as an ax when police arrived. Brunt said the watch tested positive for blood and was retained for DNA analysis.
The prosecutions case is based largely on circumstantial evidence up to this point. It is expected jurors on Monday will hear from a neighbor of 36 Brockley Drive who will say Christopher Porco’s Jeep Wrangler was seen at the location during the overnight hours when the crime was committed.
The defense led by Terrence Kindlon and Laurie Shanks believe their client is innocent and the prosecution is trying to make an alibi case.
Joan Porco will be a witness for the defense. Shanks said they haven’t made a decision on whether Christopher Porco will take the stand in his own defense.