Slava Novorossiya

Slava Novorossiya

Monday, October 12, 2015


Woman allegedly slain by son was devoted to the end
BY JASON NARK, Daily News Staff Writer, 215-854-5916
Posted: October 15, 2014

WHEN Steven L. Pratt walked out of prison Friday morning after 30 years, his mom was there waiting and took him to get pancakes.

Gwendolyn Pratt, 64, helped her son get a driver's permit, a cellphone and a bank account after breakfast at IHOP, along with the help of his brother, a relative said, and his first day beyond the bars of Bayside State Prison ended with a welcome-home party back at their house in Atlantic City.

Steven Pratt's uncle Darryl Pratt said he was nervous but hopeful that Steven, jailed since he was 15 for shooting a neighbor in the head in 1984, could assemble a new life from nothing, somehow, at age 45.

"He was saying all the right things. He was saying he was going to get his life back on track," Darryl Pratt, a pastor, said yesterday. "He was saying he'd like to get married."

But what happened in that home fewer than 48 hours later makes Darryl Pratt wonder if 30 years in prison broke his nephew down beyond repair.

"You do 30 years and there's no telling who you are. He spent twice as much time in prison as he spent being out," Pratt said. "It's like he just slipped back. Something just snapped."

The Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office responded to a 9-1-1 call at the house about 6:30 a.m. Sunday and found Gwendolyn Pratt beaten to death. Steven Pratt, listed at 6 feet 2 and 215 pounds by the New Jersey Department of Corrections, was detained there and later charged with murder. His freedom lasted less than two days. He's being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

Gwendolyn Pratt, a graduate of Atlantic City High School, worked as a housekeeping shift supervisor at Resorts Casino Hotel for close to 25 years.

"Gwendolyn was a star employee and will be missed deeply by the Resorts family," Mark Giannantonio, president and CEO of Resorts, said in a statement.

A widow, she lived a quiet, simple life, her brother said, in the home where they and their family were raised.

"She was sweet as can be. She was harmless, never hurt anybody," Darryl Pratt said. "She was always very supportive of him. She was so excited when he got out."

On Oct 11, 1984, Steven Pratt, then 15, shot neighbor Michael Anderson after the two had a fight at the Carver Hall apartments in Atlantic City. According to an appeal Pratt filed after his conviction in 1986, his mother had intervened to break up the fight. Gwendolyn Pratt also took her son to the police station afterward, where he admitted to the shooting.

Anderson's family declined to comment yesterday, and spokesmen for the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office and the Department of Corrections could not be reached for comment. Darryl Pratt said his nephew spoke to both a social worker and a counselor before leaving the Cumberland County prison last week.

Family members went to visit Steven Pratt there often, his uncle said, but no one asked too much about prison life.

"We just talked family things and sports mostly. He seemed upbeat," he said. "But he had never been in jail before."

Darryl Pratt said the family will have a funeral for his sister Saturday at his church in Bridgeton, and in the future he'll go see his nephew again.

"God can forgive him," Pratt said. "I just feel sorry for him. It's unbelievable."

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