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Trial for wife accused in Towson murder-for-hire case postponed until 2012

The trial of Karla Porter, the White Marsh woman accused of orchestrating her husband's 2010 murder-for-hire killing at a Towson gas station near, has been postponed due to a change in her defense counsel.

Porter is charged with first-degree murder and six other related crimes in the case, and faces the death penalty.

The trial, which had been scheduled for Oct. 11, will now likely start in March or September of next year, according to William Purpura, one of Porter's new lawyers.

Porter's charges all relate to the March 1, 2010 shooting of her husband, William "Ray" Porter, at the Hess gas station he owned on East Joppa Road near Towson. He died March 3.

The postponement was granted by Judge Robert Cahill based on the existing trial schedules of Purpura and Porter's other attorney, Theresa Whalen, Purpura said.

Both lawyers took on the case early this summer, Purpura said.

Porter's previous attorney, Francis Pommett, does not have experience working on capital punishment cases, and defendants facing capital punishment in Maryland are entitled to "death qualified counsel," Purpura said.

Purpura, who is based in Baltimore City, has worked on seven capital punishment cases in Maryland and two in the federal court system, he said.

Whalen, based in Montgomery County, is also an "experienced death penalty litigator," Purpura said.

Purpura said Cahill has been accommodating to his and Whalen's schedules, partly because of the need to ensure the legitimacy of the trial, whenever it occurs.

"All sides would prefer to do it one time, as opposed to two or three times, which is often the case with capital punishment cases when they are set back," he said.

Six people in total were arrested and charged with Ray Porter's murder, including Karla Porter's sister, brother, and nephew.

Her sister, Susan Datta, and her nephew, Seamus Coyle, were both found guilty of first-degree murder in the case in 2010. Her brother, Calvin Mowers, and another man, Matthew Brown, both pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the case, also in 2010.

The trial of Walter Bishop, who was allegedly hired by Karla Porter to kill her husband and is the alleged gunman in the case, begins Oct. 18 inHarford County.

Motions hearings in Karla Porter's case are scheduled for December, at which time the new trial date will likely be determined, Purpura said.

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