ATLANTIC CITY — A convicted murderer who was released Friday after 30 years in prison was arrested Sunday for allegedly beating his mother to death in her home.
Steven Pratt, 45, of Atlantic City, faces murder charges for the second time after having been free for less than 48 hours.
Police responded to a two-story home in the 1800 block of McKinley Avenue at 6:29 a.m. Sunday to find Gwendolyn Pratt, 64, dead of apparent head injuries. Steven Pratt was taken into custody at the home.
An autopsy performed Sunday by the state Medical Examiner’s Office determined Gwendolyn Pratt died from massive blunt injuries to the head, Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain said in a statement.
Pratt was taken to the Atlantic County jail on $1 million cash bail set by state Superior Court Judge Noah Bronkesh.
Neighbors said Gwendolyn Pratt was a good neighbor who valued her privacy and took the bus to work at 6 a.m. each day. They described her as kind and impeccably dressed.
The family threw a large welcome-home party last week for Steven Pratt, neighbor Ruan Tilghman-Pugh said.
“It’s so devastating. You just never know what people are going through,” he said.
Tilghman-Pugh said he heard Steven Pratt had asked a cousin whether he could stay with him after having a disagreement with an aunt with whom he was staying over the weekend.
“He said, ‘Cuz, I need to live with you. Aunt CeCe, she be on me,’” Tilghman-Pugh said.
Neighbors described the McKinley Avenue neighborhood as a quiet part of Atlantic City, even in the summertime. Children drew hearts and their initials in the wet cement of the sidewalk in front of Pratt’s home.
Steven Pratt was 15 in 1984 when he shot and killed his next-door neighbor, Michael Anderson, in the Carver Hall apartment building in Atlantic City. He was tried as an adult. In 1986, a jury convicted him of murder and he was sentenced to 30 years in state prison.
He was released from Bayside State Prison on Friday after completing his sentence, according to the state Department of Corrections.
At trial, prosecutors said Pratt borrowed a gun from a friend and shot Anderson twice, in the face and shoulder. Anderson died days later.
According to court records, Anderson argued and pushed Pratt after Pratt and his friends refused to leave an apartment hallway where they were noisily hanging out. Pratt returned to Anderson’s apartment with a lead pipe, but Anderson took the weapon away and bloodied Pratt’s face.
Pratt then returned with the borrowed handgun and shot Anderson.
Pratt unsuccessfully appealed his sentence three times, most recently in 2008.
He testified that Anderson had acted like a father to him.
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