BEL AIR, Md. (WJZ)–Walter Bishop Jr. will likely die in prison, but he will not be put to death. A sentence has been set for the man convicted of carrying out a murder-for-hire plot.
Weijia Jiang has details on the sentence and reaction to it.
The same jury that convicted 29-year-old Walter Bishop Jr. of capital murder spared his life–rejecting the death penalty prosecutors pushed for. Jurors sentenced him to life in prison with the possibility of parole for killing Towson gas station owner William Ray Porter in March 2010.
His defense attorney sobbed tears of joy in court.
“We’re very relieved,” said Stefanie McArdie, Bishop’s attorney. “Obviously there’s a victim’s family here, and this was a tragedy. We believe in what we told the jury. This was a complete aberration. Our client had no criminal history. Everybody who knew him was absolutely shocked. And we don’t think he’ll be a future danger. I think it’s an appropriate sentence. And like I said, we’re very relieved.”
Emotions also ran high for the victim’s family, who hoped for a death sentence.
“It’s just been very difficult. That’s obvious. We appreciate all the support we’ve gotten and the job that’s been done,” said Richard Porter, victim’s brother.
The key piece of evidence in this case was a videotaped confession, which made Bishop eligible for the death penalty. But the recording may have also saved him from an execution.
Jurors were convinced of Bishop’s story that he was manipulated by the victim’s wife Karla Porter, who stands accused of setting up the murder-for-hire plot.
Jurors gave several other reasons Bishop doesn’t deserve to die: that he has no criminal past, he acted under duress, lacked family support, had a mental illness and drug addiction.
“Disappoint is not the right word,” said John Cox, Baltimore County Assistant State’s Attorney. “We had a fair trial, so I’m happy that we had that opportunity.”
Bishop also faced charges of conspiracy and handgun possession. Before the judge punished him for those charges, Bishop said, “I’m not the villain or monster the state’s making me out to be. I don’t feel I have to die in prison for what I did.”
The judge clearly disagreed. He gave Bishop another life sentence, plus 20 years. Those charges will run consecutively. Still, Bishop will have a chance at parole in 40-50 years.
Karla Porter’s trial has been moved to Carroll County. It will begin sometime next year.