The country’s highest court will not be hearing an appeal of Christopher Porco’s murder conviction, greatly reducing the former Delmar resident’s chances of an overturned verdict.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares announced on Monday, April 2, that the United States Supreme Court denied a petition to review the 2006 murder conviction. Porco, now 28, was found guilty of murdering his father and attempting to murder his mother inside their former Brockley Street home in Delmar on Nov. 15, 2004.
In March 2010 the Second Department Appellate Division unanimously affirmed the guilty verdict, after an appeal was filed on Porco’s behalf by his attorney, Terence L. Kindlon. The case was then accepted for review by the New York State Court of Appeals and was again affirmed in October 2011.
“At this time we would like to officially close our case against Christopher Porco,” said Soares in a statement. “This defendant was found guilty after jury trial, and this case has been affirmed by both the Appellate Division and the New York State Court of Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court declining to hear this case clearly shows that the evidence against this defendant was overwhelming and proved his guilt beyond any reasonable doubt, after a fair trial.”
Kindlon said he will petition the court again for a review of the case. He also said he intends to file a writ of habeas corpus application in a U.S. District Court in Albany to argue his client’s conviction was a violation of federal law and should be overturned.
“This is basically a different approach to the review process,” said Kindlon. “Simply stated, we feel duty bound to explore every avenue and this is the next step in the line.”
The appeal has centered on the fact the jury was allowed to hear testimony from police that Joan Porco, then badly injured, had identified Christopher as the assailant with a head nod in response to questions from police. By the time of the trial, Joan Porco claimed no memory of the evening and professed her son’s innocence.
A lower court heard the same appeal months ago and ruled that while the “excited utterance” should not have been admitted in the trial, the body of evidence against Porco was large enough it wouldn’t have swayed the outcome.
Kindlon said that since Joan Porco had no memory of the night of the 2004 attack due to her extensive injuries, her son was denied his constitutional right to face his accuser. However, Assistant District Attorney Christopher Horn said the head nod is fair game because Joan Porco was available to testify at the trial.
The State Court of Appeals ruled in October 2011 that even if accepting the nod as evidence was constitutionally infirm, “any error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The court’s ruling also cited “overwhelming evidence” that placed Porco at the family’s home at the time that the crimes were committed. That evidence included video recordings from traffic cameras, which showed Porco driving from the University of Rochester, where he was attending school, to the Capital District hours before the crimes, the de-activation of the family’s home alarm system shortly before the assault and the testimony of a neighbor who said he saw Porco’s yellow Jeep Wrangler leaving his parent’s home close to 4 a.m. the morning of the attacks.
Porco is serving 46 years to life in state prison Clinton Correctional Facility in the Adirondacks.
Kindlon said “generally speaking” once the habeas corpus proceedings are brought to a conclusion, there would be no more appellate proceeding options available to Porco, effectively ending their chances to overturn the ruling. This process could take up to a year to conclude.
“We will do everything in our power to find a solution to this problem for our client,” said Kindlon.
Some previous article written by The Spotlight:
Our January 2005 Story
Our June 2006 Story
Our September 2011 story
Our October 2011 story
The US Supreme Court filing dates and decisions can be found here.