TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Premeditated murder or self-defense manslaughter? That’s what the jury is deliberating on in the case of a Baltimore County woman who admits she hired the hitman who killed her husband.

Derek Valcourt reports.

Prosecutors have said this case and what Karla Porter has done is the very definition of premeditated, first-degree murder.  But Karla Porter and her attorneys have been arguing she had been acting in self-defense, and should only be convicted of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.

At first, Karla Porter blamed the 2010 murder of her husband, Ray Porter, on a robber…not the hitman she now admits she hired to kill him.

“Have you ever seen him before?” asked a detective.

“No, no,” she said.

Porter repeatedly lied to detectives after the murder, but eventually confessed during a police interrogation that she enlisted the help of several people — including her family members — to hire triggerman Walter Bishop who fired the fatal shots at the Hess gas station the couple owned together.

“He was just being really mean in the past few days,” Porter said.

Porter told the judge she endured verbal, physical and psychological abuse from her husband for years, and her attorneys said she planned the murder in her own defense.

“It escalated to the point that Karla Porter, in her own mind, felt the fear of death or serious bodily harm was imminent,” said William Purpura, defense attorney.

But prosecutors blasted back that Karla Porter was lying about the abuse.

“Karla Porter has had three and a half years to come up with the most offensive possible stories she could have come up with about her husband,” said Jennifer Schiffer, prosecutor.

Prosecutor John Cox said Porter was “bastardizing” the state’s self-defense laws.

“Even if these stories are true, it does not provide Karla Porter with any defense for what she has done,” Cox said.

The real question before the jury right now is will this be a case of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter.  She also faces conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation of murder charges.  Porter does admit she did take part in the scheme.

Porter could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.


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