Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Legal Questions Raised by Slaying of NY Appellate Clerk.

Peter Porco, at age 52, was the principal clerk to Presiding Justice Anthony V. Cardona of the Appellate Division, 3rd Department, in New York. Porco was a career appellate court clerk and devoted student of the law. During the early morning hours of November 15, 2004, Porco was brutally murdered with an ax. His wife was by his side, was similarly attacked, but miraculously survived. Their 22-year-old son is now charged with Porco's murder and with Porco's wife's attempted murder.

The case presents a myriad of complex legal and factual issues that Porco's co-workers say he would have found fascinating. There is evidence that somebody entered the home after cutting telephone wires that operated the burglar alarm. But there is also evidence that the alarm had been deactivated by someone who knew the access code before the alarm's control box was smashed. A garage window screen was cut, but a key the family had hidden was found in the front door lock. The family dog was locked in the basement.

Police who found the crime scene found Porco's wife clinging to life. Certain that she was going to die, they tried to question her to find out what had happened. They asked her if she had been attacked by a family member, and she apparently nodded "yes." When asked if her son was responsible, she apparently again nodded "yes."

Police interrogated the son for more than 6 hours, without counsel, but got nothing. He continuously insisted he was asleep at his college when the attacks occurred. Police were unable to find any physical evidence to conclusively establish that he had been anywhere near the home at the time of the attacks.

The investigation ultimately revealed that the son was heavily in debt, had argued with his father about loan applications, and had allegedly staged burglaries in his home and allegedly burglarized a veterinarian's clinic where he worked, although no charges had ever been filed.

The son was ultimately charged based on the theory that he attacked his parents to get their money. The son apparently stood to inherit at least enough to get himself out of debt.

The case is scheduled to go to trial in June 2006.

Among the legal issues to be resolved include whether the son's right to counsel was violated because a family friend had introduced himself to police and advised them he was the son's attorney prior to the 6 hours of uncounseled interrogation. Also at issue is whether Porco's wife's "nods" to police are admissible as "excited utterances" or "dying declarations." Also at issue will be the admissibility of evidence about the alleged prior burglary stagings. Finally, there will be issues related to two of the detectives who investigated the case having died in recent months.


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Talking Security Devices. First these devices have been used mainly for talking, but later on they have been integrated into home security system, along with other facilities like opening the door, turning on the light, and for emergency alert.

Back-up Power Supply. You don’t want to live in a movie, especially not in a classic thriller where the lights and home security system turn off especially when you need them more. To avoid this protect your house with a back-up supply.

Smoke Detectors. They add supplementary security to your home. The important thing is to be integrated into your home security and alarm system. These detectors don’t just detect the smoke but they can also help you to escape from a fire in time, at the same time, they cam notify the fire department. Some smoke detector systems have a power supply integrated.

House or Window Decals and Yard Signs. These are quite harmless signs of a possible existence of home security system in your house; they are posted on visible places, like windows, doors, in the yards etc., to scary, confuse and deter the burglars.

Wireless Systems. They offer all the protection necessary to your home and you get rid of hiding and masking all those cords, wires and extra outlets (you can never use for other purposes). The parts, spread around your home, communicate with the master control panel through radio frequencies – mostly used together with wireless CCTV cameras .

Security Services. These services are furnished by companies, which offer you not only the installation but also the maintenance of the system, the monitoring for cases of emergency to alert the police department, fire department, the ambulance, and relocation services for the cases when you move.

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