Schenectady County

Man withdraws guilty plea to possessing gun that killed woman in Schenectady

James Porter will get another chance to defend himself against allegations that he possessed the Lor

James Porter will get another chance to defend himself against allegations that he possessed the Lorcin 9mm semiautomatic handgun used to kill Laurel Teer last year.

Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Giardino acknowledged that he did not advise Porter that he would face post-release supervision following his plea of guilty to the charge of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in April. The 28-year-old parolee from Schenectady was facing eight to 12 years in prison during his sentencing Friday, when the judge allowed him to withdraw his plea and sent the case to trial.

“My understanding is that I did not advise you of the post release supervision, which is part of any sentence I would have given you,” he told Porter on Friday in County Court.

Assistant District Attorney Matthew Sypniewski did not object. Porter was ordered held without bail and advised his case will likely go to trial sometime within the next two months.

Porter is not accused of killing Teer, 41, who was shot once in the head during what appeared to be a botched robbery of the Eastern Avenue Deli and Grocery on June 7, 2009.

Less than a week after the shooting, Porter was a back-seat passenger in a vehicle stopped by Schenectady police in Hamilton Hill. At some point during the stop, police said they found him with the loaded handgun tucked in the waistband of his pants. Porter claimed he found the weapon in some bushes near Bridge Street and was planning to turn it in as part of a gun buyback program in Albany, but the operator of the program told investigators he was never contacted about the weapon.

During his guilty plea in April, Porter reaffirmed his position that he had nothing to do with Teer’s killing and that he told investigators all he knew. He also claimed prosecutors offered him as little as three years in state prison if he told them where the gun came from.

If convicted of the charge, Porter could be sentenced as a persistent offender and could face up to life in prison. Defense attorney Michael Mansion said his client isn’t deterred. “Mr. Porter has made it clear that he’s not interested in anything other than going to trial,” he said.

Prosecutors are waiting for the man suspected of shooting Teer to be extradited to Schenectady to face a second-degree murder charge. Wade McCommons, 25, remains detained at the federal transfer facility in Oklahoma City.

McCommons was serving the end of a federal prison sentence in Kentucky for violating the conditions of his parole on a weapons conviction when he waived extradition.

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