Jacquelyn Porreca’s killer sentenced to life in prison

Video still of Michael Chmielewski from the British documentary "Life Inside Jail: Hell on Earth."
Video still of Michael Chmielewski from the British documentary "Life Inside Jail: Hell on Earth."

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The man who admitted to killing Colonie barber Jacquelyn Porreca was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison, with a minimum of 22 years.

Porreca’s getaway driver Sean Moreland was sentenced to 2-6 years in prison, to be served at the same time as the 8 year sentence he is currently serving for an unrelated burglary.

Michael Chmielewski pleaded guilty to first degree murder in the case in September, and accepted a plea deal for 22 years to life in prison.

Chmielewski admitted he stabbed Porreca to death at the Recycled Salon during a robbery in August 2015. His attorney says the robbery was fueled by heroin addiction.

“There has not been a day since Jacquelyn has died that I don’t wake up in terror due to the way she was murdered,” Porreca’s mother said.

Porreca’s family said something on Wednesday that did not come out in this case publicly. They say Porreca knew Chmielewski and he had been a client of hers before.

After listening to five separate impact statements read aloud by Porreca’s family and her fiancé, Judge Breslin said he agreed with something that every single one of them said: Yes, the drugs may have made the two men desperate for money, but the drugs did not make them kill Jackie.

“It takes a certain kind of evil to do these things and the same kind of evil to brag about the crime to their friends and not come forward to the police,” said Porreca’s sister, Janeah Rosecrans.

Chmielewski admitted to the murders in a statement to police, an informant, and in a documentary.

The co-defendants walked into the courtroom Wednesday morning in Albany County’s yellow jumpsuits and shackles, one sitting in front of another next to their attorneys.

Defense attorneys for Porreca’s family pointed out that their attorneys were expensive and they found it ironic that the two men had enough money to pay for them, yet blamed this brutal murder on a desperate need for cash to feed their drug habit.

The five tearful statements were read first by Porreca’s mother, then her three sisters and finally, her fiancé.

Each of them explained they now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, often having panic attacks and night terrors with a sight burned in their minds of 32-year-old Jackie struggling to hold onto life for two days in the hospital.

They say Porreca was a kind, helpful person who was at the peak of her life. She was happy with her career, family, and set to marry her fiancé.

“My sister will never have another birthday,” said Porreca’s sister, Gio Mariah. “She will never attend my wedding. She will never grow up with me as my older sister. My sisters life is gone forever. The most beautiful woman I’ve ever met.”

“We have to spend our holidays and birthdays awkwardly in silence wondering what to talk about when our home was dismantled in the most gruesome of ways, trying to forget her injured ear, her puncture wounds in her neck, the scared look on her face when she woke up for a few moments heavily medicated after having gone into heart failure on the street,” said Porreca’s sister, Lucia Falciano.

Porreca’s sister says she should have been giving a speech for Jackie at her wedding, not in this courtroom.

“Jackie was vibrant in so many ways, she made people feel good with warmth that was authentic and a laugh that was infectious,” said Porreca’s sister.

“When you stepped foot into that shop on August 21st of 2015, you took her away from us,” said her fiancé. “You changed the lives of so many people. [She was] A cherished daughter, a loving sister, adored aunt, a dear friend and the love of my life. In just those few seconds, you have caused more pain, grief, and sorrow that you could ever comprehend.”

While in court, Chmielewski showed little emotion, except for moments where he was seen laughing with his attorney, Cherle Coleman. Coleman says those moments were an attempt to lighten the mood.

Mariah says she thinks the moments of laughter show sociopathic behavior, not normal for someone who’s struggling with an addiction.

Both men apologized in court on Wednesday. Still, the family says they should both be going away for life and that no amount of time is enough.

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