Ex-pastor's attorney calls for accounting details

Instead of challenging a murder charge faced by former Hickman pastor Doug Porter, a defense attorney Tuesday asked for the results of a financial analysis the Stanislaus County district attorney's office is preparing, saying he needs full disclosure because a May 12 trial is approaching.

Financial transactions are expected to provide crucial evidence, because the case involves the death of elderly rancher Frank Craig, who entrusted his $2.5 million fortune to Porter because he believed Porter would help him build an agricultural museum.

Defense attorney Kirk McAllister asked a judge to order timely disclosure of the findings from a forensic accountant who is expected to testify for the prosecution. McAllister said he needs to know the gist of that analysis so he can prepare his own expert for trial.

"I don't want to jeopardize the trial date," said McAllister, adding that he has dropped a plan to file a "demurrer" which would have challenged the legal basis for the charges against Porter.

Deputy District Attorney John R. Mayne said there is no need for a court order, because his office will send the accountant's findings to the defense as soon as the analysis is complete. Both sides must disclose information they plan to use at trial.

"When things get done, we'll send them to him," Mayne said, adding that he has given the defense the name and contact information for the accountant.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff declined to sign McAllister's proposed order, saying the attorneys could handle the matter informally.

The court again will take up the Porter case April 11, when the attorneys are expected to set a schedule for any evidentiary matters they want to litigate before jury selection begins.

Porter, 56, is suspected of murder stemming from an April 2004 wreck that killed Craig; attempted murder stemming from a March 2002 wreck that crippled Craig; theft or embezzlement from an elder adult by a caretaker; and elder abuse causing death.

He has been held without bail since he was arrested at a Mexican border checkpoint near San Diego on Nov. 27, 2006, as he was returning to the United States.

Bee staff writer Susan Herendeen can be reached at sherendeen@modbee.com or 578-2338.

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