Indictment returned in Brooke homicide case

WELLSBURG – A Brooke County grand jury has found probable cause in a case against a Burgettstown, Pa. man charged with the murder of Jason Lee Pratz of McKinleyville in February.

In a special session held Tuesday to consider only that case, the grand jury returned an indictment charging Rocco Jesse Zuccaro, 28, of Burgettstown, with murder in connection with the shooting death of Pratz.

Pratz, a former employee of Weirton Medical Center and volunteer with the Brooke Hills Park spookhouse, was found dead in his home on Genteel Ridge on Feb. 19.

A preliminary hearing for Zuccaro hasn’t been set in Brooke County because he hasn’t appeared for an extradition hearing in Washington County, where he has been held since his arrest on April 17.

Brooke County Prosecutor Joseph Barki III said he didn’t know if the extradition hearing has been set.

Barki confirmed Zuccaro had voluntarily entered a mental health treatment facility at a time when the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department considered him a suspect.

He said knowing that Zuccaro was confined allowed the sheriff’s department to further collect and process evidence in the case without pursuing his arrest, which didn’t occur until he was released from the facility.

Barki and Brooke County Sheriff Chuck Jackson have declined to comment on why Zuccaro was named a suspect or a possible motive. Jackson did say Zuccaro and Pratz were acquaintances.

Barki said Tuesday he is prepared for the possibility the case may go to trial and doesn’t want to be accused of “trying the case through the press,” thus prejudicing potential jurors’ opinions.