Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the trial of a White Marsh woman charged with ordering the death of her husband at a Towson gas station three years ago.
Karla Porter, 51, could be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole if she is convicted. She had been the only defendant in Baltimore County facing the possibility of execution — but that option is gone with the state's repeal of capital punishment this year.
Porter and her husband, 49-year-old William "Ray" Porter, owned the Hess gas station on Joppa Road. According to prosecutors, she lured her spouse to the business March 1, 2010, then called a hired gunman, Walter P. Bishop Jr., whom she had offered to pay $9,000. William Porter was shot several times in the head and died the following day.
Bishop was driven to the gas station by Calvin Lee Mowers and accompanied by Matthew Philip Brown. Mowers and Brown pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and received life sentences. Porter's sister, Susan M. Datta, also received a life sentence for supplying the handgun, as did Seamus Anthony Coyle, who prosecutors said had connected Porter and Bishop.
The county state's attorney's office had sought the death penalty for both Bishop and Porter. Before Maryland's death penalty was repealed, prosecutors could seek death row when there was DNA or other biological evidence or a video recording linking the defendant to the crime. Video of a "voluntary interrogation and confession" also made cases eligible.
In Bishop's case, prosecutors showed jurors a video recording of Bishop confessing to homicide detectives at police headquarters the day he was arrested. At the time of his trial, the death penalty was still possible, but a jury decided not to sentence Bishop to execution.
Prosecutors had initially sought the death penalty against Porter based on a videotape interrogation in which they argue she had confessed. Her defense has claimed she did not admit to her role in the killing.
Defense attorneys and prosecutors did not respond to requests for comment for this article.
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