Porter defense cites Facebook in seeking mistrial

Lawyers for a murder defendant in Providence Superior Court want the case thrown out over Facebook posts.

Jurors heard testimony for a third day Thursday in the trial of Leron Porter, who is accused in the shooting death of 17-year-old Tiphany Tallo in 2011.

Porter's defense said it found several inappropriate posts on the Facebook page of Ashley Tallo, the deceased's sister.

The defense said the posts intimidated and threatened one of their witnesses.

"Ashley Tallo clearly is causing a situation where the judicial system has been affected," defense attorney Mark Dana said. "I don't think he can get a fair trial."

But the prosecution argued the defense witness in question doesn't have a Facebook page and that someone printed the statements out for her to see.

"There's no evidence Ashley Tallo went up to Rhianna Porter and said these things, or sent her a letter saying these things or sent her this posting," Assistant Attorney General Stephen Regine said.

Judge Netti Vogel responded.

"As troubling as I find her postings, I don't see any basis in those postings for a mistrial," Vogel said.

But the judge said she will hear from the defense's witness before making a final ruling.

However, she did slap a restraining order against Ashley Tallo.

Ashley Tallo also could be found in contempt of court for something she mouthed to Porter in open court.{} A hearing will be held next week.

Vogel reminded attorneys that she's taken action to make sure Porter gets a fair trial. So far, she's banned two people from court.

"There are two people as spectators have been told not to come back," Vogel said. "Frankly, the emotions in this case run high on both sides."

Vogel's decision on whether to allow a mistrial is expected Friday morning.