A Delmar ax murder that seemed to be the stuff of Shakespeare, or at least a made-for-TV drama, is now going to become just that.
The Christopher Porco case, with its horrifying details and epic legal battles, is heading to the small screen next year, via the Lifetime Network.
That’s more than can be said for Porco himself, who’s going nowhere: The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal earlier this year, and he’s likely to spend the next 40 years of his life where he’s been for the last six, behind bars. Porco — whose good looks and charming demeanor made him seem more Romeo than killer to some observers — has now marked the first six years of his sentence at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora. He will be eligible for parole in December 2052.
The gruesome case began in the predawn hours of Nov. 15, 2004, when Porco attacked his sleeping parents with an ax, killing his father and maiming his mother. It seemed to end in May, when the Supreme Court rejected his last appeal.
But it will get new life on cable television’s Lifetime Network next year. Writer Edithe Swensen and director Norma Bailey have started production on “Romeo Killer: The Chris Porco Story” in Vancouver, according to officials with the network.
The film will star Matt Barr as Christopher Porco, Lolita Davidovich as his mother, Joan Porco, and Eric McCormack as the detective who witnessed the nod she made that ultimately helped implicate him in the case. The film will also feature Emily Bett Rickards as an amorous young supporter of Christopher Porco, who maintains his innocence, according to a synopsis offered by Lifetime.
The Porco case has already caught the attention of national television. The CBS Network’s 48 Hours Mystery aired “Memory of Murder,” an hourlong documentary about the case, in November 2006.
Three years later, the TruTV series Forensic Files aired “Families Ties,” another hour-long look at the case. And during the same year, the CBS fictional series CSI aired an episode called “Bloodsport,” which featured a scene that closely resembled the death of Peter Porco.
On the morning of the murder, Joan Porco was left for dead in the couple’s bedroom. Peter Porco was found in the blood-covered portico of the home, dead of massive head injuries.
Bethlehem Police Detective Chris Bowdish first asked the mother if her older son Jonathan had caused her injuries, and she gave a nod he interpreted as a negative. Bowdish then asked if younger son Christopher was responsible, and the woman nodded in the affirmative, the detective testified at trial.
The nod was a crucial piece of evidence against Porco, especially after his mother, somewhat recovered, defended her son and claimed she had no recollection of the attack. Porco’s defense focused on it during the appeals process.
A mountain of other evidence was enough to convict Porco of the attack at his trial in 2006.
Terence Kindlon, who represented Porco at every level of the case, said there’s no need to dramatize the events that transpired since Peter Porco’s death. In short, he said the case itself is “Shakespearean.”
“It’s a good subject for a doctoral thesis,” he said.
Only he fears a made-for-television movie will skip many of the nuances that made the Porco case epic.
“If they’re going to make it into sexy love story, well OK,” he said with a sigh. “I guess that’s show business.”