Trial starts in fatal Durham carjacking


Prosecutors say Robert Earl Wilkerson, 31, and Leryan Ishmael Scarlett, 30, shot 83-year-old George Pratt in the 1100-block of Franklin Street on April 7, 2010 and then took his 1994 Plymouth Acclaim.

Pratt was shot in the legs, but died the following June as a result of complications from his injuries. The shooting happened on his birthday.

Wilkerson and Scarlett are charged with murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon. The men are being tried separately. Wilkerson's trial is first.

"We are doing okay. We're trying to make it," said Pratt's Granddaughter Chasity Stevens, who attended the first day of jury selection Monday.

The shooting of the elderly man stunned the community.

"I don't see how they could do it to anybody, but let alone an older person. It's amazing. People don't value life like they used to," said Stevens.

Before jury selection got underway Monday, Wilkerson's defense asked the judge to dismiss all the charges. The motion was denied.

Pratt's family said it wants to see justice.

"Somebody has to pay for what they did my granddaddy," said Stevens. "A little outspoken but he didn't bother nobody or anything like that. So he was a good granddaddy."

Both men have extensive criminal records. Wilkerson is currently serving a 7-year sentence for heroin trafficking. He also has convictions for armed robbery and assault on a police officer.

While free on bond in the Pratt shooting, Scarlett was arrested and charged in a 2011 Durham bank robbery.

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He is currently in the Durham County jail.

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