Attorneys for a New York man accused of murdering Margarita Fisenko Scott, whose body was found inside an SUV in a hotel parking lot in Portland last winter, are trying to have statements he made to police before his arrest thrown out.
Regardless of how the judge rules on whether what Anthony Pratt Jr. told police is admissable or inadmissable, his attorneys and prosecutors say the case against him is going to trial. Jury selection is scheduled for March 7, with opening statements to follow on March 10.
Justice Joyce Wheeler made no immediate ruling Thursday after hearing arguments in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court in Portland on three motions by Pratt’s attorneys, Dylan Boyd and Peter Cyr, but she set the timetable for all final filings required for the trial to go forward.
“I’m not going to rule now from the bench. I’ll try to have a decision quickly,” Wheeler said.
Pratt, 20, of Queens, N.Y., is charged with killing Scott on Nov. 10, 2012 in an apartment at 266 W. Concord St. in Portland with a single gunshot to the neck.
Scott was initially believed to be missing until her husband, Cary Scott, found her body in the back of a snow-covered Chevrolet Trailblazer on Jan. 17, 2013, in the parking lot of Motel 6 on Riverside Street.
Scott, 29, had been married for less than a year. She was having an affair with Pratt at the time she was killed, going back and forth between Pratt, who was staying with friends in Portland, and her husband in Westbrook, according to police.
Police ruled out Cary Scott as a suspect early on and focused on three people as the investigation into Scott’s death proceeded – Pratt and the couple he was living with at 266 W. Concord St., Christopher and Tunile Jennings.
Christopher Jennings had had sex with Scott shortly before her death. A DNA testing on the murder weapon, a .40-caliber pistol, matched both Jennings’ profiles and ruled out Pratt. But investigators obtained an arrest warrant for Pratt after finding his DNA on both a piece of chewing gum and piece of paper used to cover up a bullet hole in the apartment, the lead investigator in the case, Portland police Detective Richard Vogel, testified Thursday.
Pratt has pleaded not guilty to a single count of murder and has been held without bail since his arrest in New York last April.
Boyd and Cyr argued in their motions that Vogel should have read Pratt his Miranda rights – that he didn’t have to talk and was entitled to a lawyer – during his first interview at the Portland Police Department on Feb. 17, 2013. They said Vogel should have clarifed when Pratt asked whether he needed a lawyer during a second interview at a New York City police station on April 2, 2013. And they argued a photo array shown to a witness to identify Pratt was unfairly suggestive.
A prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber, made counter arguments to each of those contentions, calling Vogel and two other Portland police detectives as witnesses.
One new detail came out during Vogel’s testimony, that police never ruled out the Jennings as suspects in Scott’s death even as they arrested Pratt last April.
“You had a warrant for his arrest, but you still considered Chris and Tunile (Jennings) suspects?” Boyd asked Vogel under cross-examination.
“Not as much,” Vogel responded.
Neither Christopher nor Tunile Jennings have been charged in connection with Scott’s death.
Scott Dolan can be reached at 791-6304 or at: