JACKSON, MI – Charles Porter Jr. was not supposed to be eligible for parole.
But after 13,263 days in prison, it’s happening.
Porter, now 51, was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for the murder of his father in 1984 when he was 15. The United States Supreme Court has since ruled that life sentences for minors are unconstitutional and made it mandatory to review all such cases.
Jackson County Circuit Judge John McBain sentenced Porter in a virtual October 14 hearing to 36 to 60 years in prison, making him immediately eligible for parole. The Michigan Parole Board will now decide if and when Porter will be granted parole.
“When I look at your rehabilitation potential, I would feel comfortable that you live in the same community as me,” McBain said. “I have some confidence in allowing the parole board to exercise its authority as to whether you should be eligible for parole.
Porter shot and killed his father, Charles Porter Sr., on June 19, 1984, at Porter Sr.’s home, Liberty Township. Porter was tried as an adult and convicted of first degree murder by a jury. He is currently incarcerated at Lakeland Correctional Center in Coldwater.
“I am so sorry that I did this senseless act when I was 15 and killed my father,” Porter said. “I am deeply ashamed of what I have done. I understand the pain and loss my actions have caused so many people. I want to apologize for the suffering and loss I have caused.”
Porter’s half-sister Sarah Harshman issued a victim impact statement, asking McBain to keep Porter in jail. She was 7 when Porter Sr. was murdered and says she will never get any answer on what type of man her father was.
“Personally, I don’t care if Chuck feels like a different person today,” Harshman said. “Of course he is. Most humans mature as they age. It doesn’t change the fact that his actions have definitely changed our lives. Just because 36 years have passed doesn’t mean Chuck deserves a second chance.
Forensic psychologist Dr. Carol Holden examined Porter, reviewed the case and concluded that Porter was not “hopelessly corrupt.” She discovered he was functioning in a state of “burning cognition” when he planned the murder and executed it, according to a resentencing report from McBain.
This state of “hot cognition” means Porter was acting impulsively and not realizing the long-term consequences of his actions, according to the report. Porter’s plan to murder his father was a “magical thought.”
“This is the case of a teenager who made a tragic mistake,” said Michigan State appeal defender Rebecca Hahn. “An adolescent who has the potential for growth and rehabilitation.”
Court believes Porter’s actions were premeditated because he waited to shoot his father in the neck and head, but Porter is not “irretrievably corrupt,” which means a life sentence without release conditional is not allowed, according to McBain’s report.
Porter has not been ticketed for misconduct in prison for over 20 years, which is a remarkable record, according to McBain’s report. Porter spent nine years in a program that trains abused dogs and has helped rehabilitate more than 50 dogs, he said at the hearing. He has also taken classes that teach anger management and counseling classes.
Porter also received a letter of support for parole eligibility from a retired correctional officer, who believes Porter is rehabilitated, according to McBain’s report. The Correctional Officer and Holden agree that Porter took full responsibility for his actions.
“I think your own father, wherever he is… I have a feeling he would say, ‘My son has done enough time. He served 36 years in prison for my death, ”McBain said. “I have a feeling that if he could tell me, he’s done enough time.
Deputy chief prosecutor Kati Rezmierski filed a motion early in the case, asking for Porter’s life sentence to be continued without parole, which was the right decision at the time, she said.
“Taking a human life is an eternal choice,” Deputy Chief Prosecutor Kati Rezmierski said at the hearing. “That being said, the evidence presented here in Mr. Porter’s case… is compelling evidence. Mr Porter, at the time he was initially sentenced, had no reason to believe he would ever walk free. I can’t stay here and say anything other than it’s to his credit that he did everything he did behind bars.
Porter has created a plan for his reintegration into society if granted parole. His mother and stepfather have a room for him in their Florida home and he has family to support him. This is one of the best back-to-school plans McBain has ever seen, he said. Five people attended the virtual hearing to show their support for Porter.
“I will never betray my family again and hope to live among them and count on them to adjust to a new normal,” Porter said. “I want to learn to live in a house with modern conveniences. … I want to experience new things and meet my niece and nephew. I want to work for meaningful work and be a law abiding citizen outside of prison. “
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