Jurors are expected to begin deliberating Monday whether Karla Porter is guilty of premeditated murder for hiring a man to kill her husband, or of a lesser charge because she was acting in self-defense.
Porter, 51, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her husband of 24 years, William "Ray" Porter. He was shot to death March 1, 2010, at the Towson gas station he owned after prosecutors said his wife offered to pay an Essex man $9,000.
The hit man, William Bishop, was previously convicted in the murder and is serving a life sentence. If convicted, Porter faces up to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. She had been a candidate for the death penalty before it was repealed by legislators earlier this year.
During her weeklong trial, defense attorneys tried to show that she was acting in self-defense after suffering years of abuse, including having a gun put to her head and having dog feces spread on her. She confessed to hiring a hit man when she took the stand in her defense Thursday.
Prosecutors repeatedly asked Porter why she did not call police, or why she just didn't leave her husband. They argue that Porter had been planning her husband's death for some time, offering to pay two other men to kill him months before he was finally shot.
On Friday, several defense expert witnesses testified that Porter suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, which they said contributed to her state of mind when she sought someone to kill her husband.
Mary Ann Dutton, a psychologist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, said Porter's repeated abuse could affect her ability to think clearly. Such abuse, she said, "makes their perception of the danger even bigger." Victims of spousal abuse feel an "impending sense of threat," which can be triggered by certain incidents, she said.
Porter testified that her husband was intent on moving to Florida and would likely have killed her once they left Maryland.
Porter told jurors about one incident in which her husband was backing up his pickup truck and a toolbox in the truck bed caught the side of their garage, damaging it. Porter said her husband became angry, blamed her and struck her with the sharp metal toolbox lid. Afterward, she described how a neighbor came over and tended to her wounds.
But Deputy State's Attorney John Cox called Porter's neighbor, Kathy Monks, who testified she didn't recall having helped Porter. She and her husband had testified that they noticed damage to the garage.
Karla Porter also testified that when she accidentally hit her husband's truck in her car, a friend had to stand between them to prevent a confrontation.
However, that friend, Mike Jones, testified that he did not recall having to stop Ray Porter or that he became angry with Karla.
Deliberations are expected after a few additional witnesses and closing arguments.