Friday, March 7, 2014
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.
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.
Evidence technicians found a pool of dried blood in the basement and a trail of blood leading to it from the living room, Vogel said. Someone had tried to wash away the blood before the renovations had started.
Police also found a bullet hole in a wall that had been filled with chewing gum. A DNA sample recovered from the gum and a piece of paper pressed against the gum matched Pratt's.
Vogel said a neighbor remembered seeing a man having trouble loading trash bags into the Trailblazer around 2 a.m.
Police say that when they searched the Jennings' new apartment in Portland, they found the .40-caliber handgun that was used to shoot Scott, as well as crack cocaine and cash.
Pratt's attorney, Cyr, said after the hearing that the state's case is implausible.
Nobody in the dense neighborhood reported hearing a gunshot, he said. And the Jenningses noted nothing amiss in their apartment when they returned, so Pratt would have had to shoot Scott, clean up the apartment, then dispose of the body by driving it to the motel two miles away. He then would have had to walk back and fall asleep with an infant in his arms before the Jenningses returned at 3 a.m.
Cyr also noted that people said they saw Scott after Nov. 11, when Pratt was in New York. Investigators say the people were mistaken about when they saw her.
Finally, Cyr said, Pratt's DNA was not on the gun but the Jenningses' was.
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: