NEWARK, NJ – Dressed in a button-down shirt with four Essex County Sheriff’s Officers standing alongside him, Joseph D. Porter appeared in Essex County Superior Court on Wednesday for the first time since the deaths of Karen Bermudez-Rodriguez and David Kimowitz.
Porter, 27, of Elizabeth, pleaded not guilty to the murders of Bermudez-Rodriguez, an au pair and Kimowitz, a New York City comedy club owner who both lived in Maplewood. Bermudez-Rodriguez was the au pair for Kimowitz’s family.
Essex County Superior Court Judge Nancy Sivilli ruled that Porter is a flight risk and that he must be detained without bail. Defense attorney Adrien Moncur testified that Porter was a low flight risk.
Porter is accused of stabbing Kimowitz to death with a knife inside of his home on Walton Avenue in Maplewood in the early morning hours of Aug. 3. Porter had entered the home around 2:45 a.m., according to testimony at the detention hearing.
He then allegedly bound Bermudez-Rodriguez with tape and chased her out of the same home with a different knife, according to court records. She was found by authorities lying in front of a house on Woodland Avenue around 6 a.m. that same morning and taken to Newark Beth Israel Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 7:17 a.m.
Porter was dating Bermudez-Rodriguez, according to the affidavit of probable cause.
Court documents say Porter tried to fly from Newark Airport to Cancun, Mexico that same morning.
“The defendant is a danger to the community,” said Assistant Prosecutor Jason Alterbaum. “The defendant tried to fly to Mexico. He bought a ticket that day after he allegedly killed two people.”
Porter was detained the weekend of the murders at Newark Airport and charged with two counts of first-degree murder, possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and criminal restraint.
“Mr. Porter is being detained on all of those charges,” said Sivilli.
“Two people were killed within four hours,” Sivilli said, noting that Porter is a flight risk and a risk to the community.
Porter worked as a truck driver and a painter before his arrest and had no prior criminal record, Moncur said in court Wednesday.
A second court date has not yet been announced. He has seven days to file an appeal.