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The Killer Interview: 8 murderers who claim they're innocent

Piers Morgan posing with Kimberly Saenz on either side of a protective screen
Image: Piers Morgan interviewing Kimberly Saenz | The Killer Interview with Piers Morgan

In The Killer Interview, Piers Morgan steps inside American prisons to have frank conversations with eight people put away for heinous crimes. They insist they’re innocent, and this is their chance to tell their side of the story to one of the world’s most experienced interviewers.

The Killer Interview with Piers Morgan airs Mondays at 9pm Crime + Investigation. It is also available on demand to Sky and Virgin customers as well as streaming on Crime + Investigation Play.

Here are the eight convicted killers Piers is meeting.

1. Christopher Porco

Did Christopher Porco carry out a savage axe attack on his parents at their Delmar, New York home, leaving his father dead and his mother severely disfigured? The details of the 2004 crime are truly shocking – especially the fact that his father seemingly went about his morning routine in a kind of daze, loading the dishwasher and packing his lunch, before succumbing to his injuries.

But almost as startling is the fact that Porco still has his defenders – most notably his mum, who can’t remember the attack but has long maintained that Porco is innocent.

2. Robert Spahalski

In November 2005, police in Rochester, New York were stunned when a gaunt man named Robert Spahalski walked into a station and confessed to four murders – three of which had been carried out more than 15 years earlier.

It marked the start of an investigation into a life lived in the shadowy margins of society – of drug abuse, sex work, demonic hallucinations, and sudden, inexplicable, brutal violence that cost the lives of those closest to Spahalski. Though he has since retracted part of the confession, Spahalski remains one of the most chilling convicted killers in the US judicial system and isn’t afraid to show his sinister side during the televised interview.

3. Kimberly Saenz

Kimberly Saenz is a member of a particularly sinister and despised criminal cohort: nurses who murder their patients. Back in 2012, she was convicted of killing five and injuring several others at a Texas clinic, carrying out the attacks in a remarkably unsubtle way: injecting bleach into kidney dialysis machines while they were hooked up to patients’ blood vessels.

Eyewitnesses literally caught her in the act, while her internet searches carried out during the killing spree included, ‘Can bleach be detected in dialysis lines?’ Despite all of this, Saenz continues to maintain her innocence, claiming that she was scapegoated to cover up system failings.

4. Karl Karlsen

By any measure, Karl Karlsen is one of the most unusual and cold-blooded killers in US history, targeting his family members for the paltriest of reasons: insurance money.

His first murder was carried out in 1991, when he set fire to his family home in Murphys, California. He and his kids managed to escape but his wife died in the inferno, in what looked like a tragic accident. More than 17 years later, Karlsen struck again, this time targeting his own son, who was crushed while carrying out repairs on a truck. It later transpired that Karlsen had also taken out insurance policies on two granddaughters – perhaps a sign that yet more unthinkably unfeeling acts were being planned.

5. Matt Baker

When Texas school teacher Kari Baker was found dead in her bed in 2006, it looked like a textbook case of suicide. She’d left a note apologising to her family for what she was about to do, and – as her Baptist preacher husband Matt Baker attested – she had never gotten over the death of their infant daughter several years before.

But in actual fact, it was Matt Baker who’d orchestrated his wife’s death. Behind his pious image, Baker had been carrying on a heated affair and had coldly resolved to get rid of the wife he was no longer attracted to. The details of the case scandalised the community and resulted in Baker being labelled ‘the murdering minister’.

6. Danny Pelosi

It was back in 2001 that New York’s genteel, upscale Hamptons area was rocked by the brutal killing of Ted Ammon, a millionaire Wall Street financier who was bludgeoned to death in his home. The man convicted of the murder, Danny Pelosi, has spent decades behind bars but maintains he is nothing more than an innocent fall guy.

Pelosi, who was having an affair with Ted’s wife, Generosa, at the time, argues that it was Generosa who snapped and ordered the killing after she found out that Ted had made another woman pregnant. Generosa has since passed away and there continues to be considerable debate around the case.

7. Rod Covlin

On New Year’s Eve 2009, top UBS executive Shele Danishefsky was found dead in the bathroom of her New York City apartment. More than a decade later, her estranged husband, Rod Covlin, broke down in tears in a courtroom after being handed a life sentence for her murder.

Covlin, a professional backgammon player who helped found the US Backgammon Federation, claimed that evidence against him was fabricated. But he was dubbed an ‘evil predator’ by Danishefsky’s brother, who also called him ‘the strongest argument there is for the death penalty’.

8. Levi King

An ordinary afternoon in Anderson, Missouri in 2005 was shattered when Orlie McCool and his daughter-in-law, Dawn, were gunned down while carrying groceries into McCool’s house. The killer then drove 13 hours to Pampa, Texas, where he invaded a farmhouse and killed three members of the same family.

The culprit turned out to be a young man named Levi King, who hailed from a gun-obsessed family. He is now destined to spend the rest of his life behind bars for a deranged rampage that horrified even the most experienced murder detectives.