Husband admits he killed wife Plea agreement reached in homicide 3 weeks after wedding

January 10, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A 43-year-old Glen Burnie man has admitted to killing his wife just three weeks after their wedding last September.

Clarence Pritchett III, of Morris Hill Court, faces 30 years in prison after pleading guilty Friday to second-degree murder before Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Bruce C. Williams. Judge Williams set sentencing for March 8.

Maizella Pritchett, 48, a 23-year employee at the Social Security Administration, was found strangled and beaten to death at their home on Sept. 30.

el,.5l Assistant State's Attorney Michael O. Bergeson said he agreed to the second-degree murder plea because it would have been difficult if the case had proceeded to trial to prove the killing was premeditated -- a requirement for a first-degree murder conviction.

According to a statement of facts read into the court record, Pritchett fought with his wife Sept. 30, then left her at a Glen Burnie shopping center, where she called a friend who came to pick her up.

From the friend's house, Mrs. Pritchett called her husband, and after a series of telephone conversations, where she "laughed some and cried some," she agreed to come home.

Her nude and battered body was found the next day in a hallway of the home after a neighbor, concerned about her safety, had called police.

Mr. Bergeson said in court Friday that about 11:30 p.m. on the night of the murder, Pritchett had called an old girlfriend, Mary Bryson, in Wilmington, Del., and asked nervously if he could meet with her because he desperately needed to talk.

When they met the next day in Wilmington, he said, "I need to talk to you, I killed her," according to the statement of facts read by Mr. Bergeson.

When she asked him to explain, he told her "I killed her" and "I know she's dead, she stopped breathing," according to the statement.

Pritchett was arrested a few days later in Delaware, Mr. Bergeson said.

Mr. Bergeson said there was no single issue that triggered the fight that led to the killing, but that it was a case of a "troubled relationship" from the start. The Pritchetts were married Sept. 5, and their brief marriage was punctuated by a half-dozen fights that brought police to the home.

The relationship deteriorated to the point that the victim's daughter had ordered Pritchett out of the house, which had been Mrs. Pritchett's home before the marriage, he said.

A few weeks before the murder, the daughter, Lisa Stewart, also had taken her mother to stay at a friend's house in Virginia for a week to get away from Pritchett, he said.

Several family members who were in court Friday declined to comment after the plea hearing.

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