Woman charged with killing teen

Victim knew too much about drug sales, court documents say

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2005

A 22-year-old Silver Spring woman allegedly shot a Washington, D.C., teenager several times Nov. 17 and left him for dead on a driveway in Silver Spring because he knew too much about her ‘‘drug selling business,” according to court documents.

Parris Deshon Pratt of the 100 block of Croyden Court was arrested at an undisclosed location in Takoma Park Nov. 21 and charged with first-degree murder and the use of a handgun in the commission of a felony. She continues to be held at the Montgomery County Detention Center, Clarksburg, on a no-bond status. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for early December.

Pratt is accused of gunning down 16-year-old Philip Cunningham, a resident of a Washington, D.C., group home, after driving him to the 9200 block of Manchester Road and luring him out of the car she was driving. Police say she shot the teen several times above the waist, then returned and shot him again when it appeared the boy was still alive, according to court documents.

The slaying was witnessed by a male friend of Cunningham, referred to in court documents as a confidential source known to police. The confidential source, who apparently had known Pratt for several months, provided much of the narrative contained in the charging documents, including the alleged motive for the shooting.

According to the confidential source’s testimony to detectives, Cunningham knew who Pratt was when she pulled up to Cunningham and the informant in her vehicle. Police wouldn’t say where Cunningham and the informant where when Pratt picked them up. She then asked them if they wanted to go for a ride and the two got into the car.

Douglas F. Gansler (D), state’s attorney for Montgomery County, confirmed that Pratt and Cunningham had known each other but would not elaborate on the nature of that relationship.

‘‘This was not a random incident in which someone just picked someone up off the street,” Gansler said.

After picking up the two, Pratt then drove to 9219 Manchester Road, where she stopped the car and told Cunningham and the confidential source that she had to go to the bathroom, according to court documents.

Pratt then got out of the car, went into the bushes on the side of the driveway at 9219 Manchester Road and came back to the car a few minutes later.

Upon returning, Pratt knocked on one of the car’s windows and asked to speak to Cunningham, according to the documents. Cunningham then got out of the car and walked over to Pratt, who was standing a few yards from her vehicle.

At that point, Pratt pulled out a silver revolver and ‘‘shot Cunningham multiple times” above the waist, according to documents.

Pratt then got back into the car and was beginning to drive away when she allegedly saw that Cunningham was still alive.

It was then that she got out of the car again, walked back over to where Cunningham was and shot him while he was lying on the ground, according to court documents.

Pratt then returned to the vehicle and drove off with the confidential source.

Officers responding to a call of an injured man lying in the driveway of a home in the 9200 block of Manchester Road before 8:10 p.m. found Cunningham suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to the head. He was flown to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore with life-threatening injuries.

County police, seeking the identity of the teenage victim, launched a three-day media campaign in an attempt to find witnesses or anyone who knew the victim or what had happened.

On Nov. 20, the confidential source, who wished to remain anonymous ‘‘due to fear of reprisals,” according to court documents, called police and told them he had information about the shooting. Police then interviewed the witness and confirmed the victim’s identity with the manager of the group home where Cunningham lived.

Later that day, doctors at the hospital pronounced Cunningham dead. After a Nov. 21 autopsy, a deputy medical examiner ruled Cunningham’s death a homicide caused by multiple gunshot wounds to the head.

County police detectives then found and charged Pratt Nov. 21. According to court documents, Pratt, during an interview, ‘‘admitted to being involved in the shooting of Cunningham.” She also allegedly told police that ‘‘the handgun she used in the crime was in the vehicle she was operating when she was arrested by police.”

Police on Monday did not provide additional information on the nature of the drug-selling business. ‘‘The more serious charge is the murder charge,” said Lucille Baur, a spokeswoman for county police. ‘‘That would certainly take precedence.”