Julie Porzio can't look into a mirror without thinking of the day she almost died. She has a scar on her face that's a daily reminder.
"I really truly believe it's a miracle I am alive," she said. "You know, my kids don't really know what happened. My 5-year-old, unfortunately, is starting to hear things from other people, so … I had to tell her."
Porzio is a mother of two active and beautiful young girls and a divorce lawyer in Waterbury, Conn. She had to tell her oldest of two daughters that someone shot her in cold blood, and all she was doing was her job.
Her profession nearly cost Porzio her life, the result of a case she took in 2003 that she knew from the beginning might be difficult.
"When clients describe their spouses as 'controlling' and, um, 'resistant to financial contributions to her future, or their future,' then I, I know that it's gonna be somewhat of a concern," she said.
She had seen her share of confrontational, explosive cases, but nothing prepared her for Bochicchio vs. Bochicchio.
Porzio's client was 42-year-old Donna Bochicchio, also a mother of two. Donna's husband, Michael Bochicchio, was a retired Connecticut state trooper. The divorce was contentious from the start, with battles over everything from their children to the house, sex and money.
Donna told her friends that she was afraid of her husband, and began making secret recordings of Michael's threats, particularly about money.
"So help me God, I will never pay you money, no matter what happens in this divorce," Michael said in one recording.
As the trial progressed, the judge sent the Bochicchios to mediation to try to work out a settlement. After a morning of talks, Michael Bochicchio finally agreed to settle and the details were worked out. But by the afternoon, all bets were off.
"Mr. Bochicchio says, 'Oh, I could never…No, I could never agree to that, Judge. Never.'" Julie recalled.
Michael's gambling losses were a huge part of the case, and Julie had gotten him to testify candidly about both his losses and his winnings, which he never reported to the IRS. The judge in the case thought Michael might have committed tax evasion, and advised him to show up at the next court date -- June 15, 2005 -- with an attorney. That morning, Julie and her client decided to drive to the Middletown, Conn., courthouse together.
As they drove to court, Julie and Donna were readying for the final days of the trial. What they didn't know at the time was that Michael Bochiccio had other plans.
As they entered the parking lot next to the courthouse -- Julie driving, Donna in the passenger seat -- Michael was waiting in his mini-van.
The former state trooper then began pulling the trigger of his 40-caliber Glock handgun.
"And then, um … and then I know I am hurt," Porzio said. "I don't know that I hear bullets. I don't know what it is that happens next, but I know I am hurt."
"I don't hear anything from Donna," she said. "I don't hear a cry. I don't hear a yell — nothing. And then … and I hear nothing from him, not a word, just a dark, dark stare. I think the first bullet came across my face and injured me. It hit my … the rear corner of my eye. And literally cut my ear right in half."
Porzio says she remembers falling to the center console of the car, wondering what was happening. She also says she knew that her face was bleeding.