Jury convicts man in Delta Junction murder

Posted: Wednesday, July 19, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A Fairbanks jury on Tuesday convicted a man of first-degree murder for killing a Delta Junction bar owner last year.

Todd Porterfield, 38, was also found guilty of first-degree arson for starting a fire that killed 79-year-old Walter Roll in March 1999. The jury deliberated for less than a day.

The murder conviction carries a maximum of 99 years in prison, while arson has a 20-year maximum.

Porterfield shook his head as the verdicts were being read, but he said nothing. Prosecutor Pat Doogan declined comment.

Porterfield's wife Michele was convicted of murder in the same case last month. She is in prison awaiting sentencing.

According to court documents, Michele Porterfield said she and her husband planned the murder to get money from the Bay Bar, Roll's business on the Richardson Highway.

Todd Porterfield's defense attorney suggested to the jury that Michele Porterfield masterminded the murder, and that her husband didn't know anything about it.

The Porterfields came to Alaska from Washington and arrived in Delta Junction with their two daughters in 1998. They began working for Roll soon after and began calling him ''Pop''. They shopped for him, ran errands and helped out around the Bay Bar.

According to court documents, the couple drank and played dominoes with Roll on the evening of March 21, 1999.

After Roll went to bed, Todd Porterfield placed a steak in a frying pan on the stove, then set fire to a towel hung above it, according to court documents. The couple quickly left before flames spread through the bar.

Fire investigators found a partially melted frying pan on the stove, but nothing that might have accidentally caused the fire.

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