General Crime

* Mark James Porter Sentenced to Six Years Prison for Kidnapping Child

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A San Jose man was sentenced to six years in prison today for kidnapping the 8-year-old daughter of his then-girlfriend, now wife, despite tearful pleas from the girl, her mother, and her legal guardian. After Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Carol Overton announced the sentence, the maximum possible by a previously negotiated settlement, defendant Mark James Porter became extremely emotional and agitated. He pleaded with Overton and had to be removed from the courtroom by Sheriff’s deputies. Outside the courtroom, Porter’s parents and the family of the girl, now 9, held each other and sobbed in anguish at the fate of the man who abducted the little girl from her San Jose elementary school in the midst of a domestic dispute with her mother on Jan. 13. An Amber Alert was issued for the missing girl that morning, and Porter dropped her off at a Wienerschnitzel hot dog restaurant less than three hours later. Porter turned himself in to police later that night.Today in court, the girl, her mother, and her legal guardian each gave emotional statements begging Overton to impose a one-year sentence instead of six. The charges also included a count of battery and domestic
violence for an incident that occurred with the girl’s mother in November 2008. The girl told Overton she was happy to see Porter when he arrived at Holly Oak Elementary School that morning. The girl said Porter had been on campus before to pick her up from school, bring her McDonald’s for lunch, and once to stay with her “because I was being naughty in my classroom.” The girl said Porter gave her a Hello Kitty watch, went to her home looking for her mother, then took her to a friend’s house to watch cartoons. It was then that the girl saw her own Amber Alert flash on the
screen. Tearful and soft-spoken, the girl told the court she was not scared before seeing the Amber Alert, because “he’s like my dad.” The girl also provided Overton with a scrapbook of family photos, including a Father’s Day card she had made for Porter. “I want him to come home,” the girl said. “I miss him.” The girl’s aunt and guardian told the judge she has no connection to Porter other than his relationship to her sister. The woman has had custody of her niece for about eight years, she said. “It is very true that his actions were very impulsive in going to her school,” the girl’s aunt and guardian said. She noted that Porter had been to the school in a parental role several times in the past, and that he
plays a positive role in the girl’s life.”He does have a good heart and he has brought a lot of good things to our family,” she said. The girl’s guardian said she put the girl in counseling after the abduction and that she was not trau, matized by the incident.The girl’s mother apologized to the judge that their situation became the court’s concern. She and Porter married while he was in custody, and are expecting a child this spring. Porter’s mother and father also spoke today. Defense attorney Nan Bucknell called the situation “one of those ‘one out of a hundred’ cases we see that we won’t ever forget.” Bucknell said Porter’s actions violated the letter, but not the spirit of the law, and his behavior was “felony selfish” rather than criminal. Porter and the girl’s mother had broken up at the time, Bucknell said, and he panicked and acted rashly when he was told by the mother to stay away from the girl. “He was thinking of himself that day, not even realizing he was committing a crime,” she said. Bucknell reiterated the request for a one-year sentence, saying the family has been through agonizing public scrutiny and “feels the whole thing was completely overblown.” However, prosecutor Steven Dick said the agreed-upon six-year maximum was too low. “So many misstatements have been made,” Dick said of the family testimony regarding Porter. According to Dick, Porter went to jail previously for domestic violence charges with another woman that included false imprisonment. In November 2008, he beat his now-wife, giving her two black eyes, Dick said, and in January he broke her nose. Dick said Porter took the girl to her aunt’s house, looking for the girl’s mother. When he did not find the girl’s mother, he called her and said, “I have (the girl). Where are you?” “We call that kidnapping,” Dick said. “That is using a child. (The girl) is being used as a pawn.” Overton took extra time to make the girl comfortable as she testified, and encouraged family members to make statements if they desired, despite the tight court schedule. In handing down the six-year sentence, Overton said, “the court does not have a wide discretion in this case.” Overton said she considered Porter’s history with domestic violence, and the trouble involved in transmitting a statewide Amber Alert, but also the fact that he returned the girl after just a few hours. “When there is an assertion that a victim was not traumatized, I do not believe that for a moment,” Overton said.

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