He murdered Jason Lee Pratz in his home two-and-a-half years ago. Monday, a jury has decided that Rocco Zuccaro should serve the rest of his life in prison without mercy.
Despite desperate pleas from Zuccaro’s family, friends and acquaintances, the jury decided Zuccaro will not be eligible for parole and that he must serve the rest of his life behind bars.
“Murder in the First Degree” carries a life sentence in the West Virginia State Penitentiary which is why the jury was forced to decide whether or not Zuccaro would be eligible for parole after 15 years.
Defense attorney Michael Nogay called Zuccaro’s sister, uncle, friend and psychiatrist to the stand, each one telling the jury why they should give him mercy.
However, Prosecutor Joe Barki asked the jury to give him life without mercy due to the nature of the crime, the possibility of Zuccaro re-offending, and his violent past.
“In this case, I think that was a real danger should he receive parole that he could re-offend and god forsake hurt somebody else. But even not withstanding that, just the fact of how this crime was committed called for a no mercy,” says Barki.
During the hearing, Pratz’s mother, Dolly, was called to the stand. Through tears, she was able to recall moments the two shared and described the type of man he was. She told Zuccaro that throughout the trial, she never saw any remorse from him.
Pre-sentence investigation will be done to assist department of corrections in terms of housing and any kind of treatment he may need while incarcerated. Zuccaro’s sentencing is set for 9 a.m. on September 1. He will stay behind bars at the Northern Regional Jail in the meantime.
“This has been a very difficult case over the past 2-1/2 years, especially with the mental issues my client has faced. The national and local publicity resulting from the escape made selecting a jury and obtaining the cooperation of witnesses very difficult,” says Nogay. “I have the deepest sympathy for Mrs. Pratz and her family on the loss of their son and brother. We all wish this senseless killing had never occurred. Both families have suffered beyond my capacity to describe in words.”