Witness says accomplice shot man, 83, during carjacking

Apr. 28, 2014 @ 05:58 PM

An alleged accomplice in the slaying of an 83-year-old grandfather testified Monday against his ex-partner, saying the partner shot the victim as the two men rode around Durham looking for someone to rob.

Leryan Scarlett was testifying in Durham County Superior Court in the murder trial of Robert Earl Wilkerson, accused in the April 7, 2010 shooting death of George Junior Pratt.

Scarlett said he, Wilkerson and another man had robbed two people in Butner the previous day and wanted to rob someone again. They met the morning of April 7 at a gas station on Hillandale Road to discuss their scheme, then drove to an apartment complex on Guess Road, where they planned to rob a man who was expected to be there. But when they couldn’t find him, they drove to Alston Avenue and then to nearby Franklin Street, where they saw Pratt sitting in his car.

Scarlett said he didn’t want Pratt to see him, because they knew each other, and he had robbed Pratt’s home about 10 years earlier, but avoided arrest because Pratt didn’t call police on him. He said Pratt “sold ball tickets” and might have cash on him.

According to Scarlett, Wilkerson got out of the car’s passenger side and went to Pratt’s vehicle, where he pushed his gun through an open window and demanded money.

“He was screaming for money, and [saying] obscenities,” Scarlett testified.

Wilkerson “jerked the door open” and shot Pratt twice, then yanked him out of the car and threw him to the ground, Scarlett said, apparently without finding any cash. Pratt died two months later as a result of complications from gunshots in both legs.

Wilkerson drove off in Pratt’s car, and Scarlett followed.

They went to North Hyde Park Avenue, where Wilkerson searched Pratt’s car for valuables. He found none, and wiped off the car, according to Scarlett.

Scarlett said they drove to Wilkerson’s residence on Currin Road in eastern Durham County. He said he started playing video games while Wilkerson paced back and forth. In a few minutes, they noticed a police car outside, and Wilkerson jumped out a window and fled.  Scarlett said he came outside after officers used a bullhorn to persuade him to surrender.

Police initially charged Scarlett on an unrelated warrant, and he was released on bail later that day, meeting up again with Wilkerson at a home on Eva Street.

Later, Scarlett said, he retrieved his gun from a hiding place on Mineral Springs Road. He took the gun apart, then drove to Red Mountain Road in northern Durham County, where he tossed out pieces of it, one by one.

Durham police later arrested both men and charged them with murder and armed robbery.

Scarlett struck a deal with the prosecution for his testimony, and is expected to draw a lighter sentence.

Wilkerson’s then-girlfriend, Sharell Roberson, is charged with felony accessory after the fact and filing a false police report in connection with Pratt’s death. Her case is pending.

Testimony continues today.