Lesser Charge Sought In Pastor's Murder Trial

MODESTO, Calif. (AP) - The jury that will determine the fate of a Hickman pastor charged with murder in the death of an elderly rancher is enjoying a long weekend while the judge considers whether jurors should have the option of convicting him of manslaughter instead.

Howard Douglas Porter is accused of embezzling more than $1 million from 85-year-old Frank Craig and staging two car wrecks to kill him. The 57-year-old Porter testified Thursday that he borrowed less money than that from Craig, but repaid it.

The judge halted the trial until Monday so attorneys could present arguments on a defense motion to have jurors instructed to consider vehicular manslaughter along with the murder charge in their deliberations.
Closing arguments could come in the trial next week.
Information from: The Modesto Bee, http://www.modbee.com

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-07-25-08 1331EDT

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