Woman convicted in murder case; husband also to be tried

Posted: Tuesday, June 13, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A jury has convicted Michele Porterfield of first-degree murder and arson in the death of a Delta Junction businessman.

Porterfield, 33, awaits a sentencing hearing later this month and faces life in prison.

Todd E. Porterfield, 36, also faces charges of first-degree murder and first-degree arson. His trial tentatively is scheduled to begin July 10.

The couple is accused of setting fire to the home of Walter Roll, 79. The home was connected to the Bay Bar near Mile 266 of the Richardson Highway.

The Alaska State Troopers said they learned that the Porterfields had become increasingly dependent upon Roll, who had hired them to do his laundry and take him around Delta Junction.

The three had formed a business alliance several months before Roll died with Todd Porterfield securing the title to Tom's Inn, a bar where Roll was majority owner, court documents said.

Roll likely bankrolled the purchase, using the younger man's name in hopes of securing a liquor license, troopers said.

Todd Porterfield also faces extradition on felony charges in Seattle.

Police there have accused Porterfield of embezzling money from the owner of an apartment complex where he worked as a resident manager.

Porterfield allegedly opened a bank account under the name ''Todd Porterfield DBA Creston Apartments'' without consent of the complex's owner.

After the account sat dormant for almost a year, nearly $10,000 allegedly was deposited by cashing checks from renters and the Seattle Housing Authority. Porterfield then withdrew the money and the couple headed for Alaska, court documents said.

The Porterfields arrived in Delta Junction in the summer of 1998, or about the same time Seattle prosecutors obtained a warrant for Porterfield's arrest.

Troopers arrested Porterfield the day after the Delta Junction fire on a fugitive from justice charge carrying $30,000 bail.

Todd Porterfield was released from jail in April, after prosecutors dismissed the fugitive-from-justice charge. That came as part of a ruse created by troopers and the district attorney's office to gain a confession.

Troopers arrested Porterfield a short time later on murder and arson charges after stopping the car in which he was riding about 20 miles north of Delta Junction.

Michele was arrested later that night at the couple's home.

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