Convicted Killer Seeks Freedom

Norman Porter spent 20 years as activist, poet and Chicago handyman following escape from prison

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    NEWSLETTERS

    BostonHerald.com
    Norman Porter

    A convicted killer who escaped from prison and spent 20 years as an activist, poet and handyman in Chicago before being recaptured is asking for his freedom.

    Norman Porter is scheduled to appear before the Massachusetts Parole Board on Tuesday to ask to be released.

    Porter was convicted of second-degree murder for the 1960 slaying of John "Jackie" Pigott, a store clerk he shot to death during a clothing store robbery in Saugus.

    He escaped a pre-release center in 1985 and went to Chicago, where he assumed the name Jacob "J.J." Jameson and invented a past that included a childhood in Maine and two children.

    From a Chicago Tribune review of "Killer Poet," a documentary on Porter:

    "In his 20 years here he was occasionally homeless on Lower Wacker Drive; worked as a sometime carpenter; sold newspapers; drank too much; wrote a book of poetry for Puddin'head Press; worked for the election of Harold Washington; and started a day care center at his West Side Unitarian Church. That's where he was picked up in March 2005, after a random match of his prints linked Porter and Jameson in an FBI computer."

    He got an additional 10 years for the escape.

    "Here’s a man who was involved in two violent crimes nearly 50 years ago who has done all he can to rehabilitate himself," Porter's Lawyer, Thomas D. Herman, told The Boston Globe. "We’re going to argue that he’s no longer a threat to the community."

    Porter has support from people he befriended in Chicago and from prison officials who say he was a model inmate while he was incarcerated, the newspaper reported.

    Others don't want to go so easy on him.

    "My feelings are that he should serve out his time," said Claire Wilcox, who was engaged to marry Pigott when he was slain.