A woman accused of orchestrating her husband's murder last year in a Towson gas station admitted to police that she had wanted him "hit," although she insisted she did not intend for him to die.
In a videotaped interview with detectives, played publicly for the first time Wednesday during a pretrial motions hearing, Karla L. Porter initially claimed to have had no involvement in the death of her husband, William R. Porter, who was shot in her presence on March 1, 2010, at the filling station the couple owned on East Joppa Road. She pinned the crime on a light-complected black man wearing an earring, who she said was trying to rob the business.
Under persistent questioning by a detective armed with other confessions, she eventually acknowledged that was not true, and that the man who showed up that morning — he was white — did so at her behest. She paid him $400, she said, explaining through tears that her 49-year-old husband had hit her with a crutch a few days earlier and that she wanted to retaliate.
"I swear on my children, I just wanted someone to hit him back," Porter said. "I didn't want any of this to happen."
Porter, a 48-year-old mother of two, is scheduled for trial on April 4 on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy and solicitation to commit murder. Prosecutors said they would seek the death sentence in her case and that of Walter P. Bishop Jr., the alleged triggerman, whose trial is set for June 6.
Porter's elder sister, Susan M. Datta, who was accused of providing the gun used to kill her brother-in-law, was found guilty of first-degree murder after a two-day trial in November. The women's 53-year-old brother, Calvin L. Mowers, who prosecutors said drove the gunman to the gas station, pleaded guilty in September to first-degree murder.
That same month, Matthew P. Brown, who prosecutors said rode with the hit man to the site of the killing, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, and Seamus A. Coyle, who is Karla Porter's nephew and who was accused of introducing her to the prospective hit man, was found guilty of first-degree murder and two other counts.
On Wednesday, Baltimore County Circuit Judge Robert E. Cahill Jr. sat through a screening of the entire interview with Porter, more than three hours long and taped at police headquarters five days after her husband's death. The viewing, which Porter attended, was held to establish whether she had confessed to having her husband killed, since Maryland law requires a confession in order to hand down a death sentence, according to prosecutor John P. Cox. The defense says she did not actually confess, while the prosecution claims that, for all intents and purposes, she did.
"She acknowledged that she was the person who provided the gun to Walt," Cox wrote in an e-mail after the hearing. "She never directly said, 'I hired him to kill' her husband. She did at one point say, 'At first I just wanted him to get beat up.'"
Porter's attorney, Francis A. Pommett III, asked the judge to order that the videotape not be shown to the jury on the grounds that her statements were made without benefit of legal counsel. Twice during the interview, she briefly raised the matter of speaking with an attorney, but then kept on talking to the detectives.
The judge said he would rule on the motions in a week or so.