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Private investigator approved for homicide trial

Updated: Tuesday, September 24 2013, 04:42 PM EDT

By: Jennifer Black, NEWS9


The trial for the suspect accused of killing a Brooke County man was pushed back several months following a status hearing in Brooke County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

Rocco Zuccaro, 28, is accused in the February 2013 shooting death of Jason Pratz, of McKinleyville.

During Tuesday’s status hearing, defense attorney Michael Nogay told Judge Ronald Wilson that he is still waiting on the results from Zuccaro’s five-hour-long psychological evaluation.  The defense also filed a motion for the appointment of a private investigator.

Nogay said there were at least six matters in documents from the state that he found “troublesome,” which led to his request for a private investigator.

“The investigators throughout felt that there were two suspects involved, and that there were two different types of slugs found at the scene,” Nogay said.  “I think this deserves a more thorough look, including having the investigator speak to several of those people."

NEWS9 obtained a copy of the motion, which says that state records indicate there is forensic evidence of “unexplained gunshot residue on the right hand of a person at the scene who is not the defendant.”

It also makes mention of an earlier arson attempt at Pratz’ home in December 2012.

Judge Wilson approved the motion and appointed a private investigator out of Wheeling, W.Va.

Prosecutor Joe Barki agreed to push back the trial date, and said that the prosecution may order its own psychological evaluation to be done.

Judge Wilson has set Zuccaro’s trial date for March 11, and prosecutors say it could last three to four days, as they intend to call several witnesses to the stand.

Stay with NEWS9 and for continuing coverage.

Private investigator approved for homicide trial

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