Porter guilty of killing girlfriend, sentenced to 20 years


Joseph Porter pleaded guilty to murdering his girlfriend and was immediately sentenced to just over 20 years in prison, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Tuesday.

Porter, 26, pleaded guilty to second-degree unintentional murder in the strangulation death of 27-year-old Cristina Prodan in her Edina apartment last year. Under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines, the recommended sentence would have been 180 months in prison to possibly 216. However, Porter admitted to particular cruelty because he did not call authorities, hid the body and caused stress for Prodan’s mother. For that, Porter agreed to a higher sentence of 250 months in prison.

“This was a heinous murder and it took police and our office months to put together the evidence necessary to bring about this guilty plea,” Freeman said. “But we were not going to let him get away with just 15 years for his despicable actions and we were successful in getting him the additional time he deserves.”

According to his statements in court and in the criminal complaint, as well as the victim impact statement from Prodan’s mother, the couple had been in a tumultuous relationship for three months and Porter had been living with her in apartment, even though he was married to a man in Arkansas.

Others in the apartment building had called Edina Police many times because of the noisy arguments between them and when Porter was finally prohibited from being in the apartment, he became homeless and would occasionally slip back into the apartment, her mother said.

On Jan. 4, 2018, Porter was back in the apartment and got into an altercation with Prodan. It eventually turned violent and he started to physically assault her, Porter admitted. He then intentionally choked her because he wanted to harm her and she ultimately died from the strangulation.

When he realized she was probably dead, Porter admitted he did not call for medical help or for the police. Instead, he shoved her body into a large suitcase and “put the suitcase in the backseat of my car,” Porter said in court.

He drove to New Orleans, where two days later, he burned Prodan’s body in a shipping container in a junk yard, burning himself in the process.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Martha Holton Dimick accepted the plea and sentenced him to the prison term and, after Porter said he had nothing to say, told him what she thought.

“When I read the criminal complaint, I thought I was watching a television movie of atrocious actions of a horrible person,” Judge Holton Dimick said. “I couldn’t believe how you treated this lady. I couldn’t believe your age.”

Prodan’s mother had to file a missing person’s report with the police and wonder what had happened until charges could finally be filed six months later.

“She is my only child,” she wrote in her impact statement. “I cry all the time.”