July 10, 2013

Maine murder suspect's attorney: Evidence points to others

Anthony Pratt Jr. is accused of shooting his fiance in the neck, dumping her body at a Portland motel and fleeing to New York.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – A woman who lived with Marguerita Fisenko Scott last year testified Wednesday that she threatened to kill Scott on the night police say she was murdered.

Anthony Pratt

click image to enlarge

Margarita Fisenko Scott

Contributed Family Photo

The woman's husband had sex with Scott shortly before she died.

But police say it was Scott's fiance, Anthony Pratt Jr., who killed her, stuffed her half-naked body in the back seat of her sport utility vehicle and left it in a motel parking lot, where it was found two months later.

Pratt is being held without bail in the Cumberland County Jail, charged with murdering Scott by shooting her once in the neck. The state wants to hold him until his trial, which might not start until early next year.

Pratt was in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court on Wednesday to argue that he should be released on bail.

"The state is trying to extinguish someone's right to bail," said one of Pratt's attorneys, Peter Cyr. "After all, Mr. Pratt is presumed innocent."

Cyr argued that there is ample evidence pointing at others as more likely suspects than his client. But prosecutors say the key evidence points to Pratt, and he had a motive.

Pratt was jealous of Scott's estranged husband, with whom she had spent the prior night, and Pratt was a suspect in an assault on her that morning.

And after the shooting, "He left town and basically never came back looking for her, never called her -- his fiancee," said Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese after the hearing.

Through four hours of testimony, Pratt sat impassively. Justice Roland Cole made no ruling on bail for Pratt. The hearing will resume Monday.

A key witness in the case testified Wednesday.

Tunile Jennings lived at 266 West Concord St. in Portland with her husband, Christopher Jennings. Pratt and Scott were staying there as well.

Tunile Jennings testified that she was preparing to celebrate her husband's birthday with him in the Old Port on Nov. 10 when she warned Scott not to have sex with Christopher Jennings.

"I said I'll kill you if you do it," she said. "I was drunk and I was wasted. I wasn't trying to threaten her or anything. ... It was a figure of speech."

Tunile Jennings said she didn't know until two weeks ago that her husband did have sex with Scott.

On Nov. 10, Pratt and Scott agreed to watch the Jenningses' children -- an infant and a 4-year-old. Tunile Jennings called at 1 a.m., when the bars closed, and told Scott they didn't need to be picked up because they were taking a cab to PT's Showclub, a strip club on Riverside Street.

She called again at 2 a.m. and got Pratt, she testified.

When they returned to their apartment, Pratt was asleep on the couch. Jennings asked where Scott was and he said she hadn't come home after dropping them off in the Old Port.

Portland Detective Rich Vogel testified that 2 a.m. was the time Scott had promised to return the Chevrolet Trailblazer to Cary Scott, her husband, who lived in Westbrook and needed it for work.

The next day, Pratt suddenly said he had to go back to New York to help an elderly man whom he considered a grandfather cope with problems caused by Hurricane Sandy two weeks earlier.

Rudolph DeBetham, 81, testified that he asked Pratt to come to help him days before Scott's death.

When officers went to 266 West Concord St. after Scott's body was found, they found that the apartment building had been sold and was being renovated, and that the Jenningses and Pratt had moved away.

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