Killer Who Escaped Prison, Lived as Poet Fights for Release

A convicted killer who spent 20 years on the run, hiding in plain sight as a poet, went before the Massachusetts Parole Board to ask to be released Thursday.

Norman Porter, 79, said he takes full responsibility for his crimes, which include two murders, followed by a prison break that kept him under an alias in Chicago for 20 years.

"If it wasn't for my behavior, those men would not be dead," Porter said, apologizing to the board and the family members of his two victims. "I would like to express my deep sorrow."

Porter was convicted of two slayings in the 1960s. The first was John Piggot, a store clerk shot in an armed robbery in Saugus. The second was David Robinson, a jail master killed during an escape.

"It's another slow death, is what it is. It's a void in your life that didn't have to happen," said Piggot's brother, Bob Piggot, who attended the hearing.

Following his incarceration, Porter broke out of custody in 1985 and moved to Chicago, where he lived under the alias J.J. Jameson and published poetry in the city. He was eventually captured and returned to Massachusetts in 2005.

While he faced opposition from several family members, Porter received support from three members of the public, including an employee at one of the prisons where he served time. In his plea to the board, Porter said he would do whatever was asked of him.

"I'm willing to do whatever you want me to do," Porter explained. "Whatever you wish me to do that would satisfy your questions and your concerns."

A decision is expected in the next few months.

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