Amid the Carnage, a Mother's Love

ByABC News
July 11, 2006, 4:24 PM

July 12, 2006 — -- As Joan Porco, her skull split open by repeated blows from an ax, lay bleeding in her bed with medics frantically working to save her life, she allegedly indicated to police that the person responsible for the brutal attack that would put her in a coma and leave her husband dead was the couple's son Christopher.

But now that the young man's trial is under way in an Orange County, N.Y., courthouse, Joan Porco is standing by him, claiming he is innocent, even though she said that since coming out of a three-week coma she has no memory of what happened on that morning in November 2004.

Christopher Porco, 22, is accused of attacking his parents with an ax as they slept in their home in 2004. He allegedly killed his father and put his mother into a coma in what appears to have been the drastic act of a desperate young man in deep financial difficulty.

With the prosecution painting Porco as a cold-blooded sociopath who attacked his parents after they had caught him in a web of lies, Joan Porco has sat behind her son throughout the trial, hugging him before and after each session, and defending him every inch of the way.

Peter and Joan Porco, and their two sons Christopher and Jonathan, lived on a modest, oak-shaded suburban street in the town of Bethlehem, N.Y., a couple of blocks from the local high school. Bethlehem is a town where teen drinking is the biggest problem and even a burglary is a rare occurrence.

So when Peter Porco, a clerk in the Albany County courthouse, failed to show up for a trial on Nov. 15, 2004, court police, at the request of co-workers, went to the Porco residence to check on him.

According to pretrial testimony and interviews, police found Peter Porco immediately upon entering the house, lying in a pool of blood, nearly beheaded.

Police reports and court records describe a macabre scene. It appeared as if the gravely wounded Peter Porco had stumbled out of bed after being attacked, spraying blood across walls and on doorways. It appeared that he tried to get dressed and make breakfast, leaving a trail of blood throughout the house before he collapsed.

According to testimony, police and paramedics believed that Peter was operating on adrenaline, and was most likely completely unaware of what had just happened to him and his wife, or the condition of his body.

Police found a check Peter had made out to his son Christopher on top of knocked over dishes in the kitchen, covered in Peter's blood, as were all the appliances, countertops, walls and floor of the kitchen.

"There is blood on the floor. He looks to his right. To his right are the stairs that lead to the second floor of the residence where the bedrooms are," Assistant District Attorney Michael McDermott said, describing what the first arriving officer saw at the Porco house.

"And at the base of those stairs is the dead body of Peter Porco. Peter Porco is laying on the landing to the stairway going upstairs. His face is pointed up the stairs. His legs are dangling off the end of the landing. He's covered in blood, saturated in blood, obviously suffered tremendous catastrophic injuries," McDermott said.

The police and paramedics rushed upstairs and found Joan, lying in bed, her face disfigured and bloody. Police were amazed she was still breathing. Next to her, under the covers, was what police determined was the murder weapon, a firefighter's ax.

"When they enter the master bedroom, ladies and gentlemen, and you will see pictures of this, they see a sight of incredible horror, of incredible carnage," McDermott said to the jury during his opening statement.

"There is blood all over the master bed. Just covered, saturated. There is blood on the walls behind the bed. And laying at the foot of the bed is a large ax, large bloody ax left at the foot of the bed. Laying across the bed is the body of Joan Porco," he said.

During a pretrial hearing, Albany County paramedic Kevin Robert told the court that he found Joan Porco on her back, left eye missing, jaw crushed, teeth missing, and head fractured in several spots from repeated blows from the ax.