Porter to remain in jail through murder trial

Joseph Porter

NEWARK, NJ — The man accused of killing two people in Maplewood on Aug. 3 pleaded not guilty to double homicide charges at a detention hearing on Aug. 14 at the Essex County Courthouse, where Judge Nancy Sivilli chose to hold Joseph D. Porter, of Elizabeth, in jail from now through his trial.

On Aug. 3, Maplewood police officers responded to Walton Road and Jefferson Avenue on a report of a woman being assaulted. The officers found Karen Bermudez-Rodriguez, 26, lying in the street after having been stabbed. MPD officers then found David Kimowitz, 40, unresponsive inside his home on Walton Avenue. Chief Assistant Prosecutor Thomas S. Fennelly of the Prosecutor’s Homicide Unit said Kimowitz was pronounced dead at the scene. Bermudez-Rodriguez, 26, was transported to Beth Israel Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 7:17 a.m.

Bermudez-Rodriguez was an au pair who had been hired by Kimowitz and his wife to care for their two daughters.

Porter was charged with two counts of murder, possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and criminal restraint. At the hearing, Assistant Prosecutor Jason Alterbaum argued that Porter should not be released because he is a flight risk. He was arrested at Newark Airport, where he was waiting to board a flight to Cancun, Mexico.

“Within four hours, this defendant killed two people,” Alterbaum said. “That should give the court grave concern. No conditions of the release would ensure the safety of the community. He is a serious flight risk. If he is released, he will not appear at court dates.”

Porter’s lawyer, Adrien Moncur, argued that Porter should be released due to his lack of a previous criminal record and steady job history.

Sivilli said the fact that Porter does not have a criminal history was not enough to release him.

“That doesn’t take into account the facts of this case,” she said at the hearing. “He bought a ticket to go to Cancun, Mexico. He is a flight risk. There are no conditions I can impose that would ensure the safety of the community.”

Porter was given seven days to appeal Sivilli’s decision.