'Killer poet' comes up for parole

Poet J.J. Jameson was actually escaped murderer Norman A. Porter Jr.

The underground Chicago literary community knew him as J.J. Jameson; the Massachusetts penal system knew him as Norman A. Porter Jr., a murderer who escaped in 1985.

In 2005, Porter/Jameson was arrested in Chicago. "It's been a good 20-year run," he told the police at the time. Now in his mid-70s, Porter is up for parole in Boston.

Porter was a lawbreaking young man who, with a partner robbed a Saugus, Mass., clothing store in 1960. A clerk was shot and killed. The next year, awaiting trial in Cambridge, Porter and a partner tried to escape, shooting and killing the jailer.

In both cases, Porter pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to consecutive life terms. While in prison, he earned his high school diploma, started a prison newspaper and radio station. He also began writing poetry.

"He was quite talented," his Boston lawyer Gordon T. Walker said after his 2005 arrest.

One of Porter's life sentences was commuted in 1975; he was serving in a low-security facility, where he was a model prisoner who earned furloughs and dutifully returned. After he failed to secure parole, depressed, he walked away in 1985.

He took his new name from "Spider-Man" comics: J.J. Jameson is Peter Parker's domineering boss. But a profile in Boston Magazine portrays him as a very different kind of character, quiet and giving when he lived in a poor neighborhood in Chicago.

Local Chicago poet CJ Laity saw different side, writing after Jameson/Porter's arrest that to some he "was a mean person, who interrupted their poetry, talked trash about people behind their backs, made rude remarks right to people's faces, and was borderline violent when he would be hopped up on his regular cocktail of narcotics and alcohol."

Porter has been denied parole once, in 2010.

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