Murder suspect pleads not guilty

WELLSBURG – A not guilty plea was entered Tuesday on behalf of the Burgettstown man accused of killing 30-year-old Jason Lee Pratz in February.

Attorney Michael Nogay entered the plea on behalf of his client, Rocco Jesse Zuccaro, 28, of Burgettstown at Zuccaro’s first hearing in Brooke County Circuit Court.

Nogay also sought and was granted a court order seeking medication he said Zuccaro needs for treatment of “a serious mental condition.”

In addressing Circuit Court Judge Ronald Wilson, Nogay noted Zuccaro voluntarily underwent treatment in a mental health facility for 30 days prior to his arrest on April 17.

Nogay said Zuccaro needs the medication so he may assist in his defense.

Circuit Court Judge Ronald Wilson set a May 10 deadline for Nogay to respond to the indictment returned against Zuccaro at a special grand jury session on April 22 and for Nogay and Brooke County Prosecutor Joseph Barki III to file pre-trial motions for the case.

Wilson also scheduled a June 7 hearing to review the case’s status.

Zuccaro has been charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of Pratz, who was found dead in his home on Genteel Ridge on Feb. 19.

Barki and Brooke County Sheriff Chuck Jackson haven’t commented on a possible motive.

Jackson has said Zuccaro and Pratz were acquaintances.

Barki said in the event the case does go to trial, he doesn’t want to be accused of prejudicing potential jurors’ opinions by releasing information through the press.

Zuccaro is being held in the Northern Regional Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond set in circuit court.

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