(born July 9, 1983) is a convicted murderer; he was convicted of killing
his father and attempting to murder his mother.
He was tried in Goshen, Orange County,
New York, on charges of second degree murder in the November 15, 2004
killing of his father, Peter Porco and second degree attempted murder in
the severe wounding and disfigurement of his mother, Joan Porco in
Delmar, New York.
The trial lasted 21 days and was one of the most
highly-covered Capital Region news events in recent memory.
The trial was moved to Orange County after a New York
State appeals court ruled that a change of venue was necessary to ensure
Porco received a fair trial due to the intense media coverage in the
Orange County criminal court justice Judge Jeffrey G.
Berry, who presided over the trial, allowed still cameras (no sound or
video) in the court during the proceedings, a rarity in New York State,
which gives judges great discretion over the electronic recording of
cases. The Judge did allow video taping of the summations of both
defense and prosecution lawyers. The announcement of that verdict was
also video taped.
The case against Porco received extensive coverage in
local newspapers including the Times Union as well as in local
television outlets. The case was also the subject of a one hour
documentary on 48 Hours Mystery entitled "Memory of Murder," broadcast
by CBS on November 4, 2006.
This attention may be due to the grisly nature of the
murder as well as emails between Porco and his parents in the months
leading up to the attack, which have been made public.
The emails detail tension caused by Porco's academic
problems and careless spending. Perhaps most interesting to those
following the case is the fact that a badly-scarred Joan Porco
maintained her son's innocence throughout the trial, and accompanied him
to many of his criminal proceedings.
On Monday November 15, 2004, a New York State courts
officer was ordered to the home of Peter and Joan Porco. Peter, a State
Appellate Division court clerk, had not reported to his Albany office
for that morning. Upon entering the two-story home at 36 Brockley Drive
in Delmar, the officer discovered Peter's lifeless, blood-soaked body
near the front door.
An Albany County medical examiner would determine
that Peter, 52, had sustained massive head injuries causing his death.
Joan Porco was soon discovered by police officers. She was lying in the
couple's blood-drenched bed and had suffered severe head and facial
trauma. Joan would lose her left eye and a portion of her skull.
A fireman's ax belonging to the Porcos and used in
the attack was found in the couple's bedroom.
As Joan was rushed to into emergency surgery,
Bethlehem, New York Police quickly focused their investigation on the
younger of the couple's two sons, Christopher, then a student at the
University of Rochester, 230 miles westward. Less than two hours after
authorities arrived at the scene of the attack, an all-points bulletin
for Christopher was issued.
Christopher Porco was at the University of Rochester
when his parents were discovered. He was accidentally notified of the
attack by Simone Sebastian, a reporter at the Times Union who attempted
to contact Porco's roommate with questions about the family.
That evening, Porco returned to Delmar and was
questioned by Bethlehem Police detectives about the attack.
The prosecution's case
In the months following the attack Porco's attorney
Terence Kindlon criticized investigators, saying they were focusing
narrowly on Christopher Porco as a suspect. Shortly after the attack,
Bethlehem Police detectives were dispatched to the university to
inverview Porco's fraternity brothers and friends and to determine his
whereabouts during the early morning hours of November 15.
In late November, 2004 outgoing Albany County
District Attorney Paul Clyne convened a grand jury to hear testimony
implicating Christopher Porco in the murder. Some of those who were
reported to have testified in the closed-session hearing included
Porco's Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity brothers and friends from college,
a University of Rochester campus safety officer, as well as a former
The Grand jury would field more testimony, and
stretch months before finally handing up an indictment against
Christopher in November 2005, one year after the attacks.
Christopher Bowdish, a Bethlehem Police detective,
stated that as medical personnel attended to Joan Porco at her home, he
took a moment to ask her if she could identify her attacker. Bowdish
said that when he asked Joan if a family member had done it, Porco used
her head to indicate "yes".
Bowdish has maintained that when he asked her if it
had been her older son John, a Naval officer stationed elsewhere during
the attack, she shook her head indicating it was not but nodded her head
up and down indicating "yes" when he asked her if Christopher were
Joan Porco's alleged identification of her son
Christopher may explain why Bethlehem Police pursued her son soon after
the incident, rather than conducting a broader investigation of
The murder gained greater attention in the Capital
District as Joan Porco, emerging from a medically-induced coma,
maintained that Christopher had nothing to do with her husband's murder.
During videotaped testimony submitted to the grand jury in December 2005
Joan testified about her family but did not identify her son as an
Nine months later, she wrote a letter for publication
in the Times Union about Christopher: "I implore the Bethlehem police
and the District Attorney's Office to leave my son alone, and to search
for Peter's real killer or killers, so that he can rest in peace and my
sons and I can live in safety,".
It was quickly revealed to the news media that there
had been tension between Christopher Porco and his parents involving
money prior to the attack. A series of emails disseminated through the
press show the growing rift over loans that Christopher took out to pay
for his tuition at the University of Rochester as well as to finance a
new yellow Jeep Wrangler.
Following the Fall 2003 semester, University of
Rochester officials forced Christopher Porco to withdraw from the school
due to poor grades. When Porco was readmitted to the university the
following year, he took out a loan for more than $30,000 to pay for his
expenses, forging Peter's name as a cosignatory.
Unbeknownst to his parents, Christopher was
attempting to pay for his Fall 2004 tuition with a portion of the
$31,000 loan he had received. Earlier in the fall, he had told his
parents he had been readmitted to the University of Rochester after the
school determined a professor had misplaced his final exam from the
previous fall semester. Peter and Joan Porco were under the impression
that their son's tuition would be covered by the college.
Less than two weeks before his murder, Peter
confronted his son about his dishonesty in an email and reprimanded him:
"Did you forge my signature as a co-signer?...What the hell are you
doing? You should have called me to discuss it...I'm calling Citibank
this morning to find out what you have done and am going to tell them
I'm not to be on it as a co-signer."
The following day, Peter Porco was notified that
Christopher had also obtained a line of credit from Citibank to finance
the Jeep Wrangler. His son had also used Peter's name as a cosignatory
to secure the auto loan. Peter once again wrote to his son, who had not
answered phone calls from him or Joan in weeks.
In an email, Peter warned Christopher that he would
not tolerate any more dishonesty: "I want you to know that if you abuse
my credit again, I will be forced to file forgery affidavits in order to
disclaim liability and that applies to the Citibank college loan if you
attempt to reactivate it or use my credit to obtain any other loan."
In the same email, Peter Porco welcomed his son to
return to the family's Delmar home to resolve the matter, concluding his
message by saying, "We may be disappointed with you, but your mother and
I still love you and care about your future."
Christopher Porco's November 14-15, 2004
Christopher Porco told investigators that on the
night of November 14, 2004, he retired to a dormitory lounge at the
University of Rochester to sleep and awoke the following morning.
Bethlehem Police detectives and current Albany County
District Attorney David Soares were steadfast that Porco instead drove
more than three hours eastward to Albany in the early morning hours of
November 15 to murder his parents.
Marshall Gokey, a neighbor at 53 Brockley Drive, told
investigators shortly after the murder that on November 15 before 4
a.m., he spotted a yellow Jeep Wrangler in the Porco's driveway.
Investigators also contacted two New York State
Thruway toll booth collectors who reported that they recalled seeing
Wranglers matching the description passing through their station.
John Fallon, a toll collector at Exit 46 outside of
Rochester, NY recounted seeing a yellow Wrangler with large tires at
approximately 10:45 p.m. on November 14. Karen Russell, who collected
tolls at Exit 24 in Albany told investigators that she spotted a yellow
Wrangler shortly before 2 a.m. on November 15 because of its "excessive
speed" upon approaching the toll plaza.
Four security cameras stationed at the University of
Rochester recorded footage of a yellow Jeep Wrangler fitting the
description of Porco's vehicle leaving the campus at 10:30 p.m. on
November 14 and returning at 8:30 on November 15. Prosecutors maintain
that the attack on Peter and Joan Porco occurred in the early morning
Christopher Porco's character
Much attention has been focused on the personality of
Christopher Porco. Police contended that he is a sociopath who lied to
attain a car as well as tuition payments. Michelle McKay, a law clerk
who worked with Peter Porco, said he had described his youngest son as a
sociopath during a conversation with her.
Several Albany-area psychologists and mental health
professors have stated for the Times Union that Porco's behavior was
consistent with that of a sociopath. In particular, they focused on a
consistent pattern of lying that Porco did to convince acquantances that
he was from a wealthy and influential family.
During the course of their investigation, authorities
determined that he had a history of anti-social behavior that included
burglarizing his parents' Delmar home. In 2005, Bethlehem Police
detectives travelled to San Diego, California to retrieve a laptop
computer Christopher Porco had stolen from his parents on July 21, 2003
during a break-in that occurred while he was home from college.
Porco had sold the laptop on ebay. Eight months
earlier on November 28, 2002, Police contend Christopher also staged a
burglary at his parent's home in which he took a Macintosh laptop
computer and a Dell laptop computer.
A camera reported missing from the burglary was
recovered from the couple's front yard. One month before the attack,
both Christopher and Johnathan Porco had their ebay accounts frozen
because they shared the same Delmar address. Christopher had not sent
several customers the items they had paid for from his account.
During their investigation it was revealed to
prosecutors that Christopher posed as a Porco brother, sending emails to
the jilted customers explaining that his brother had died and was unable
to deliver on the items.
While away on a trip to England in March 2004,
Christopher received an email from Joan Porco's account admonishing him
for failing classes at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY.
In the message, Joan and Peter complained to their
son, "You just left and (we) can't believe (our) eyes as I look at your
interim grade report. You know what they say, 'Three strikes and you're
out.' Explain yourself." The email's subject header was entitled "Failing
Grades-You did it again!"
Several days later, Christopher replied in a message
to his father. Blaming the community college's office of registrar, he
wrote, "[B]ut obviously they are incorrect... My lowest grade that I got
on anything was a B on a physics test...Don't jump to conclusions, I'm
fine." Porco earned readmission to the University of Rochester with a
forged transcript from HVCC.
Judge Berry has refused to allow prosecutors to use
the forged transcripts as evidence in their criminal case against
The defense's case
Defense attorney Terence Kindlon emphasized that the
Bethlehem Police Department had no physical evidence linking Christopher
Porco to the attack on his parents. No fingerprints were recovered from
the fire ax found at the scene of the crime.
In statements to the press and criminal proceedings,
Kindlon has suggested that the Bethlehem Police Department had made
Christopher Porco's guilt a forgone conclusion. During his opening
remarks to jurors on June 27, 2006 Kindlon described the Bethlehem
Police as a department "that chases skateboarders away from the 7-11...This
is not the FBI."
Kindlon's co-counsel and wife Laurie Shanks has also
maintained that police overlooked the possibility that Peter Porco's
death was the result of retaliation against his uncle Frank Porco, a
captain in the Bonanno crime family in New York City. Frank Porco had
served two years in prison for loansharking and extortion, although
Shanks incorrectly told jurors that he had been indicted for his
involvement in a murder.
Shanks noted that Frank Porco's nickname with the mob
was "The Fireman" which could have had something to do with the type of
murder weapon found, a fire ax. He had served in the New York City Fire
Trial and conviction
On August 2, 2006, the prosecution completed its case
against Porco, and the defense's case, which was much briefer, began.
In the morning of August 10, 2006, the jury began
deliberations. By 5:00 EST, Christopher Porco was found guilty of second
degree murder and attempted murder.
On December 12, 2006 Judge Jeffrey Berry sentenced
Christopher to 25 years to life on each count totaling a minimum of 50
years in prison. Judge Berry was quoted as saying, "I fear very much
what happened in the early morning hours of November 15 is something
that could happen again."
Porco was initially sent to Downstate Correctional
Facility. On January 23 he was moved to Clinton Correctional Facility in
the Dannemora (village), New York to serve his prison term.