Modified: January 8, 2015 12:29pm
Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita, III announces that 25 year-old Christopher Pratt of East Ferry Road in the City of Buffalo pleaded guilty to Assault in the First Degree before Erie County Court Judge Michael F. Pietruszka. This is the highest charge for which the defendant could have been convicted had he gone to trial. In other words, Pratt did not receive a so-called “plea bargain” and was instead prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Pratt’s conviction stems from the July 4, 2013 shooting of a man on Montana Avenue. Pratt admitted that he shot at the victim multiple times over a dispute at a dice game. At the time of the shooting, hundreds of people were outside on Montana Avenue, which was closed for an Independence Day block party. Fortunately, no children or innocent bystanders were struck by the bullets.
The victim, however, was not so fortunate. Two of Pratt’s bullets struck the victim in the torso, damaging his kidney, spleen, and lungs. After slipping into a coma for six weeks, the victim awoke to find that the massive loss of blood caused permanent blindness in both eyes. The victim, a 32 year-old chef who had a promising culinary career before the shooting, is a father of five children.
Most witnesses initially refused to cooperate, despite the hundreds of people in attendance at the block party. Because their identities were held under Court seal at the request of the District Attorney’s Office, the witnesses eventually agreed to testify before an Erie County Grand Jury.
Pratt is well acquainted with violent crime and witness intimidation. In 2008, Pratt was convicted of Attempted Arson in the Third Degree in connection with the attempt to burn down a Bissell Ave. residence; specifically, Pratt threw two Molotov cocktails through the windows of the home of a man with whom he was having a disagreement. Pratt was also charged with shooting a man in 2012, but those charges were dismissed by a judge when the victim and eyewitness, citing fear of retaliation, refused to cooperate with prosecutors.
Based upon his criminal history and the fact that he must, as a second felony offender, serve a mandatory minimum of 8 years in state prison, and faces up to a maximum of 25 years in state prison, prosecutors asked for Pratt to be remanded into custody pending his January 26, 2015 sentence. Over prosecutors’ objections, Judge Pietruszka allowed the defendant to remain free on bail.
The case was successfully prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Michael P. Felicetta, Chief of DA Sedita’s Felony Trial Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney James W. Mansour, II, who is also assigned to the Felony Trial Bureau. DA Sedita also lauded the Buffalo Police Department investigation, spearheaded by Homicide Squad Detective Joy Jermain.