New Jersey Man Free After 30 Year Sentence Murders Again

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Steven Pratt, after completing a 30 year sentence for murder, returned to his Atlantic City home to a party in his honor only to turn the festivities into tragedy with the horrific murder of his mother who planned the celebration.

 

Less than two days after Pratt, 45, was released from maximum security prison where he had been incarcerated since his conviction for first degree murder of his neighbor Michael Anderson, he returned to his home in Atlantic City, New Jersey to a party hosted by his mother, Gwendolyn, 65.

At some point the reunion became heated and with no specific details Pratt bludgeoned his mother to death.

At his arraignment, Pratt, an African American, a grown man who spent the majority of his life in a Maximum Security prison, bowed his head in apparent contrition admitted he failed, he was guilty and wept. He said he did not want a trial.

Pratt’s criminal record is not one that prosecutors can present with traditional courtroom theatrics. No arm long rap sheet, in and out of juvie court where this day his expected end, Pratt was a first offender.

Raised by a single mother, he was in his own eyes the man of the house. On the day of his first murder, he and his posse, a few neighborhood micro thugs, boys about his own age all on the fringes of trouble, were smoking pot in the hallway of their building, which at the time still held the full penalty of the law, and one-upping each other for bragging rights of whatever subject they were talking about.

The hallway conversation was punctuated with loud boisterous laughter and after several neighbors asked the boys to move, they progressed to the lower floors. Eventually, the fun high from weed became ugly as sometimes does for the drunk. A fight broke out overheard by several neighbors, which resulted in loud noises, loud enough to summon Michael Anderson, a sort of father figure to Pratt, from his apartment.

Pratt concerned at 15 his reputation would be dissed went to his apartment and came out with a lead pipe and attacked Anderson, who took the pipe from him and court records said he defended himself against the boy by punching him in the face.

Court records indicate Pratt left the building with the intent of “getting a piece” to “serve” someone. According to court documents ‘“serve” is a Muslim expression meaning the person “served” would not survive the day.”’

By the end of the fall day in October 1984, Steven Pratt would make good on that threat. After securing a weapon from one of his homeboys, Pratt returned to the apartment of Anderson, knocked on the door. When Anderson opened Pratt fired twice. Anderson was mortally wounded and died two days later.

Pratt was sentenced to 30 years in a maximum security prison, ordered to serve the full term without parole. In his appeal he used his age at the time of the commission of the crime as grounds. He was denied.

In October 2014, Steven Pratt was a free man. Young enough at 45 to start over, to begin again. Heading home to Atlantic City. The Jersey Shoreline, to some of the most beautiful stretch of beaches in the world, to freedom, Pratt after a life inside couldn’t handle the pressure.

A conversation on the future may have been the trigger that caused Pratt to explode. In the heat of the moment, thirty years of frustration, paranoia, hell from life in the Big House, came out and Gwendolyn, who by all accounts was a “good” woman was dead.

Expert have weighed in on Juvenile incarceration citing the Pratt Case especially as violent youth offenders are increasing exponentially. The recidivism rate, the statistical determination pronouncing lifetime behaviors or the tendency for a reoccurring criminal life on the youth offender isn’t an anomaly. In the Pratt Case, the time frame is.

In February 2016, Pratt was sentenced to 25 years with no parole for the murder of his mother Gwendolyn.

Image courtesy of google images.

Additional sources: New Jersey Appellate.

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