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Parole granted for man convicted in 1960 store clerk slaying in Saugus

Norman Porter in 2015.Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff

The state Parole Board on Tuesday granted parole to 82-year-old Norman Porter, a convicted killer who escaped from a Massachusetts prison in 1985 and lived under an assumed name in Chicago for 20 years before he was recaptured.

The board said in its decision that Porter, convicted in 1962 of second-degree murder for the 1960 slaying of 22-year-old store clerk Jackie Pigott during a Saugus robbery, is now a “suitable candidate” for parole, citing factors including Porter’s health issues and participation in work, educational, and treatment programs behind bars.

The ruling said the board “is of the opinion that Mr. Porter is rehabilitated and merits parole at this time.”

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He was convicted of the murder of Pigott, who was shot on Sept. 29, 1960, during a robbery at a Saugus clothing store; and David Robinson Sr., 53, a Middlesex County jail master shot to death in 1961 when Porter and another inmate broke out of the Cambridge jail.

Governor Michael Dukakis commuted Porter’s life sentence for the murder of Robinson in 1978. The other inmate was the triggerman in Robinson’s killing.

Porter escaped from prison in 1985, and evaded capture until March 2005 in Chicago, where he was found living under the alias of Jacob “J.J.” Jameson and had become known for his poetry.

He was later dubbed the “killer poet,” and the Massachusetts Parole Board denied his prior bid for release in 2015.

Pigott’s relatives, including his elderly brother, Robert, had attended that earlier Parole Board hearing in January 2015 and opposed his bid for freedom. Robert Pigott said in 2015 that his brother’s death “destroyed my family. It destroyed my mother and father. They didn’t live a day without thinking about my brother’s memories.’’

During the 2015 hearing, Porter turned and apologized to the Pigott family.

He also argued in 2015 that the positive life he had led while on the run and living in Chicago should be taken into account by the board. In addition, Porter repeatedly told the board in 2015 that he was not the person who fired the fatal shot with a sawed-off shotgun that killed Pigott. It was his codefendant, who was later murdered in state prison, he said.

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“There are no excuses here. But I am fully aware that I am not the same person that I was at 20 as I am at the age of 75, which I will be in three weeks,” Porter told the board in 2015. “I go to my grave with them on my mind.’’

Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.