District Man Sentenced to 15-Year Prison Term for Killing Woman Near Southeast Washington Bike Path
Defendant Also Faces Revocation of His Parole for 1999 Murder
WASHINGTON – Elliott A. Starks, 35, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to a 15-year prison term for killing a woman in December 2016 along a bicycle trail in Southeast Washington, announced U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Starks pled guilty in May 2018, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, to second-degree murder while armed. The plea, which was contingent upon the Court’s approval, called for an agreed-upon prison term of 15 years. The Honorable Craig Iscoe accepted the plea and sentenced Starks accordingly. Following his prison term, Starks is to be placed on five years of supervised release. However, he also faces revocation of his parole for an earlier killing.
According to the government’s evidence, the victim, Antina Pratt, 40, was slain on Nov. 7, 2016, just over an hour after she left the restaurant where she worked. After work, Ms. Pratt took a bus from a stop near the restaurant to the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and Howard Road SE, a short distance from the Sheridan Station apartment complex. When she got off the bus, at approximately 11:15 p.m., Starks, who knew Ms. Pratt, walked up to her at a location behind the apartment complex. The two walked alongside each other onto the 2600 block of Pomeroy Road SE, and towards a bike path adjacent to Suitland Parkway SE.
Several minutes later, while in a grassy area near the bike path, Starks drew a knife and stabbed Ms. Pratt repeatedly, inflicting a total of 29 stab wounds. She fought back, and in the process, scratched her assailant with her fingernails. She eventually collapsed and Starks fled on foot. A passerby found Ms. Pratt’s body the following afternoon.
Starks had been paroled in June 2016 after serving a term of imprisonment for other offenses, including a murder that he committed in 1999, also in Southeast Washington. In the earlier murder case, he had been sentenced to a prison term of 14 to 42 years.
Telephone records revealed that Starks and Ms. Pratt had communicated with each other on the night of Nov. 7, 2016. As a result, MPD detectives arranged to interview Starks. During the interview, on Dec. 22, 2016, Starks acknowledged knowing Ms. Pratt and being aware of her death. But he denied being responsible for the stabbing.
The District of Columbia Department of Forensic Sciences, meanwhile, had examined Ms. Pratt’s fingernail clippings and found the presence of an unknown male’s DNA profile. The profile was uploaded into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a web of state and national databases containing DNA profiles from convicted offenders and crime scenes. Because of his convictions for the earlier offenses, a sample of Starks’s DNA profile had been uploaded into the CODIS database. On Dec. 30, 2016, MPD was advised that Starks’s DNA profile matched the one found on the fingernail clippings.
At the time of Ms. Pratt’s murder, Starks was still under supervision following his parole for the earlier crimes. However, in January 2017, he stopped reporting for meetings. On Jan. 6, 2017, a warrant was issued for his arrest for Ms. Pratt’s murder. He was arrested on Oct. 4, 2017, and has been in custody ever since.
As a result of this crime, Starks faces revocation of his parole for the earlier conviction. He could be required to serve the remaining 25 years on the sentence for that crime.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu and Chief Newsham commended the work of those who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department. They also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the District of Columbia Department of Forensic Sciences, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force, and the Metro transit system. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Victim/Witness Advocate Jennifer Clark and Paralegal Specialist Alesha Matthews-Yette. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael C. Liebman, who investigated and prosecuted the case.