1996 murder and wrongful conviction resurfaces in 'unprecedented - WDRB 41 Louisville News

1996 murder and wrongful conviction resurfaces in 'unprecedented' domestic violence hearing

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Cecilia Sanders and Kerry Porter in court on Wednesday Cecilia Sanders and Kerry Porter in court on Wednesday

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It looked like a rather routine request for a domestic violence order: a woman asking a judge to protect her from a man she had a child with who she felt was threatening her on Facebook.

But the man involved in the Jefferson Family Court hearing Wednesday was Kerry Porter, who wrongfully served 14 years in prison for the 1996 murder of Louisville truck driver Tyrone Camp before being exonerated in 2011.

And the woman who took out the DVO against him is Camp's widow, Cecilia, who is now married to Juan Sanders, one of the first suspects in Camp’s murder.

Cecilia Sanders' petition asking a judge to issue a protection order against Porter turned into what one attorney called an "unprecedented" hearing, delving into whether Cecilia and Juan Sanders killed Camp -- and were now making plans to kill Porter as well.

Elliot Slosar, an attorney for Porter, told Judge Denise Brown -- and later reporters -- that the DVO petition was taken out by Cecilia Sanders to "create a theory of self-defense for when they actually attempt to kill Kerry Porter."

As proof, Slosar and attorney Julie Kaelin called Louisville Metro Police Sgt. Donald Burbrink III to testify. Burbrink acknowledged Cecilia and Juan Sanders are currently "persons of interest" in the murder of Camp. 

And Burbrink also testified that Cecilia Sanders was identified in his investigation "as someone who might assist in the assassination of Mr. Porter."

The investigation into Camp’s murder and threats against Porter are ongoing.

Cecilia Sanders denied any attempts to harm Porter, saying she has never tried to put a "hit" on someone or even "talked about a hit."  But she asked for an attorney after Slosar began questioning her more in-depth about the Camp murder.

Judge Brown postponed the rest of Sanders' testimony until Feb. 28.

In the domestic violence petition, Cecilia Sanders claims Porter wrote on Facebook in January about home repairs Sanders and her husband were making and that he said he had been "creeping" in their neighborhood.

She also said Porter posted a picture of him with a shotgun – which scared her because Porter "was convicted" of shooting Camp. Slosar said the picture was of a hunting trip. 

"I am fearful for my life," she said, though she offered no evidence of direct threats by Porter. 

Porter has filed a wrongful conviction lawsuit against Metro Louisville and several police officers, including claims that Cecilia and Juan Sanders murdered Camp and framed him for the murder so they could recover money from life insurance policies she took out on him.

In the lawsuit, Cecilia Sanders has refused to answer questions about the murder, citing her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself.

Juan Sanders, who was released from prison in 2015 after serving his sentence in another homicide case, was not at the hearing on Wednesday.

Porter was sentenced to 60 years for the murder of Tyrone Camp. Camp was found shot to death outside of his truck in 1996.

After the Kentucky Innocence Project investigated the case for more than two years, evidence -- including DNA testing of the murder weapon -- convinced former Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Stengel that the state got it wrong and he asked a judge to vacate the conviction and release Porter.

An informant also told investigators that Porter was innocent and that Sanders committed the murder, according to a Courier-Journal story. The newspaper reported that Cecilia and Juan Sanders were having an affair at the time of Camp's murder.

Slosar told reporters the investigation from the civil litigation shows that Cecilia and Juan Sanders "killed Tyrone Camp, that they got away with murder.

"It’s our belief that as the walls close in, they will potentially take steps to try to kill witnesses and Mr. Porter in order to save themselves from being prosecuted," Slosar said. "This is not the first time (they) have tried to frame Mr. Porter for a crime he did not commit."

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