Man pleads guilty in murder of family friend

NORRISTOWN, Pa. - December 13, 2010

James Nicolai, 24, pleaded guilty to 2nd degree murder and related charges in the killing of 68-year-old Richard Porter of Upper Merion Township, a friend of the family.

Under the plea deal, Nicolai was sentenced to life in prison.

The murder happened back in March at Porter's home in the Wayne Woods section of the township. p>

Police say Porter interrupted Nicolai during a break-in. Nicolai told police he got scared and stabbed Porter dozens of times.

Police say a housekeeper reporting for work found Porter dead, and sources tell Action News his throat had been slashed.

Porter was the longtime owner of a painting business, and was a widower who lived alone with his dogs.

After the murder, investigators said Nicolai escaped in Porter's gray Chevy Tahoe, and was stopped in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.

Police say as 24th district officer Christopher Brennan approached Nicolai tried to drive off, dragging Brennan along.

The Tahoe then crashed into a Ford truck at Kensington and Lehigh.

Both Nicolai and Brennan were treated and released at Temple University Hospital.

Court records show Nicolai broke into Porter's house back in 2007 and 2008. When he was arrested then, Porter lobbied to get Nicolai into a long term drug treatment program and he served two years in prison.

The DA says Nicolai completed the jailhouse drug rehab and was sent to and Upper Darby halfway house last week only to bolt after four days. He then showed up at his mother's home just down the block from Porter's house the night before the murder.

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