cynthia portaro

Cynthia Portaro was on her way to face her son’s killer at a courthouse when she made a decision that would shock everyone. The Las Vegas mother recalled to Fox News Digital, “It was the morning of the sentencing. I just heard the voice of God telling me to forgive him. I didn’t know how I was going to do it or even handle that, but I wanted to be obedient. Then I heard, ‘Take away the death penalty.’ I was like, ‘What? I can’t do that.’ But I just heard that voice, ‘Go and do it.'”

Portaro is speaking out about her son’s fatal shooting in Oxygen’s true-crime series “Sin City Murders.” The show recounts chilling homicide cases that “have haunted the glamorous strip and vast desert of Las Vegas.” The former interior designer said, “My faith has kept me strong. I want to show people that I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. I don’t know your faith, but I know mine. It’s not a weakness but a humbleness.”

Michael “Mikey” Portaro, an aspiring hip-hop artist, was killed outside a pub in 2011. He was 22. He was shot several times, including in the head. According to investigators, cash was found on the ground, and Michael’s cell phone was still on him. The mother of five said while holding back tears, “There’s not a person in this town that didn’t like or love my son. He was funny, kind-hearted, intelligent and just very loving to people. No matter their status, he would always defend anybody who was bullied in school. He was an amazing athlete, a good student — just an all-around nice guy.”

Police found a cigarette butt under Michael’s body. However, his gray 2006 Nissan Altima was missing. When investigators reviewed nearby security cameras, they saw Michael pulling into the bar parking lot, getting out of his car and standing near his vehicle. It was then that another car pulled in. Michael walked over to it and leaned into the passenger side window. Initially, investigators suspected that a drug deal was taking place. However, there wasn’t sufficient evidence to support that claim.

Portaro’s account of her son selling concert tickets also checked out. Michael’s autopsy showed no signs of drugs or alcohol in his system. The Portaro family offered a $30,000 reward for the arrest and capture of Michael’s killer. According to the episode, an anonymous tip came in, urging police to look into Brandon J. Hill. He had recently been arrested for carrying a concealed gun. Hill was tracked down, and his gun was seized as evidence. Ballistic analysis showed the 22-year-old’s weapon, a revolver, matched the one that fired the bullets that killed Michael.

It wouldn’t be until Feb. 20, 2015, that a jury found Hill guilty. The death penalty was on the table. “When I was sitting in that courtroom, I saw a broken mother beside me,” Portaro recalled, referring to Hill’s mother. “I remember his cousin came up to me and said, ‘Mrs. Portaro, I’m so sorry for what happened. I want you to know that my family has been praying for you. If my cousin did what he did, just know that we don’t hate you. We don’t have anything against you.’

“It softened my heart,” she admitted. “Here were two families hurting. … And the truth is, I don’t believe in anybody having the right to take a life except God. I asked for the death penalty to be taken away. I know the district attorney thought I was crazy. But I felt the power of God’s love. Here were two families divided. We were all hurting. Death has already taken too much from us.” According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Hill was sentenced to 28 years to life behind bars.

Portaro said, “Is he sitting in prison being remorseful? I don’t know, and I don’t want to know. He has his life in prison. I have my life out of prison, but I don’t have my son here because of his actions. He has the chance to be a model prisoner. He has the chance to go to school and develop a life for himself, whether he’s in or out of prison. Does he have a chance at parole? I don’t know. He’ll be in his 50s in 28 years. If that happens, God bless him.”

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