Cops: NJ Man Kills Mother 2 Days After Finishing 30-Year Murder Sentence

Steven Pratt weeps in court while answering questions from Superior Court Judge Michael Donio, Tuesday Oct. 14, 2014, in Mays Landing, N.J. Just two days after Pratt, a convicted murderer, was released from prison after serving a 30-year-term, he was arrested Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014 and charged in the beating …
AP Photo/The Press of Atlantic City, Michael Ein

A New Jersey man is back in custody and pleading guilty after allegedly killing his own mother only two days after being released from serving a 30-year sentence for a previous murder.

Steven Pratt, now 47, was convicted of murdering a man back in 1984 when he was only 15 years old. He was released in October of 2014 after serving his 30-year sentence for the crime. But this month, he is pleading guilty to another murder charge for the death of his 64-year-old mother whom prosecutors say he killed only two days after being released from prison.

When he was a 15-year-old, Pratt was convicted of murdering a man who lived nearby. His victim, Michael Anderson, told Pratt and a couple of friends to be quiet in an apartment building hallway. Infuriated at the shushing, Pratt tried to attack the man but was rebuffed. However, that wasn’t the end of it. Not long after the encounter, the 15-year-old came back with a pistol and gunned down his neighbor.

The teenager was tried as an adult and sent to prison for 30 years in a maximum security prison.

Pratt was 45 when he was finally released from his sentence. He returned to his mother’s home in Atlantic City, New Jersey, but his fresh start reportedly lasted only two days before he once again ended up with blood on his hands.

Police arrested Pratt for beating to death his own mother, Gwendolyn Pratt.

The ex-con was taken into custody without incident and later, standing before a judge, Pratt admitted to his guilt.

“I have failed,” Pratt said in court, according to the Press of Atlantic City“I don’t want a trial. I’m guilty.”

Finally, last week, Pratt was sentenced to another 25 years in jail. He will be close to 80 years of age before he is eligible to be let out of prison.

The case comes at the same time President Obama and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan are pursuing efforts at sentencing reform with the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, an effort that critics say is dangerous. The danger is especially highlighted since the number of Americans murdered jumped 16 percent in 2015, despite falling steadily for two decades.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), first elected in 2014, is leading opposition to the plan. “It would be very dangerous and unwise to proceed with the Senate Judiciary bill, which would lead to the release of thousands of violent felons,” Cotton told Politico on January 25. “I think it’s no surprise that Republicans are divided on this question… [but] I don’t think any Republicans want legislation that is going to let out violent felons, which this bill would do.”

Immigration officials are also warning about these reforms.

National ICE Council president Chris Crane, for one, sent a letter to Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) warning about the plan.

“Because we do not have a secure border, or viable interior enforcement,” Crane said, “Americans can be certain that the thousands of criminal aliens who are released as part of this proposed legislation and then deported, in most cases will swiftly return to the United States and reoffend.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston, or email the author at


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