'Wanted' man guilty in slaying

The man avoids a possible life sentence in a trial for first-degree murder in a possible drug turf war.

By JOSE CARDENAS, Times Staff Writer
Published August 29, 2007

A St. Petersburg man featured on America's Most Wanted was sentenced to 30 years in prison Tuesday for shooting a man to death in the back seat of a car.

Orthia Porter, 27, fled to California after shooting Antonio Cummings last year, authorities say. He was arrested there in Chula Vista.

Prosecutors originally charged Porter with first-degree murder. He faced life in prison if convicted during a trial. But before his trial started Tuesday at Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, Porter pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He agreed to serve at least 25 years of his term.

Cummings' family was not eager to relive details of the murder during a trial.

"The family wanted some kind of resolution to the case," said Assistant State Attorney Tom Koskinas.

Porter and Cummings were both men from St. Petersburg with lengthy criminal records.

On April 14, 2006, Cummings, 24, went to visit a friend in the 900 block of 23rd Avenue S, the neighborhood where Porter lived.

After an argument, Porter opened fire on Cummings, who ran into a car driven by his girlfriend. The girlfriend's 11-month-old son also was in the car but was not injured.

The girlfriend drove Cummings to Bayfront Medical Center where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Several people witnessed the shooting, the prosecutor said.

Cummings was a drug dealer whose territory included Porter's neighborhood, defense attorney Edward Liebling was going to argue.

Cummings saw Porter as a threat, said Liebling, adding that Porter shot in self-defense.

It's possible the argument was a dispute over drug turf, said Koskinas. The prosecutors said there also was evidence that Cummings was originally arguing with another man.

At one point, that man threw his hands in the air and said to Cummings: "Don't say I didn't warn you," Koskinas said. Then Porter started shooting.