Local man sentenced to life in murder of ex-girlfriend

(Photo Courtesy of the Columbia County Sheriff Office)
(Photo Courtesy of the Columbia County Sheriff Office)

Jerry W. Pritchard, 31, of Magnolia was sentenced to life in prison on July 17 after pleading guilty to first-degree murder.

As part of a plea agreement, Pritchard also pleaded guilty to first-degree battery, stalking and committing a terroristic act. He was sentenced to 20 years each for the battery and terroristic act charges and another 10 years for the stalking charge, all to be served concurrently with the life sentence on the murder charge.

Pritchard was arrested on Oct. 20, 2020, in relation to a shooting that occurred shortly before midnight on Oct. 19, 2020.

Saquanna Young called the police around 9:55 p.m. on Oct. 19, saying Pritchard was at her home and would not leave, according to court records. By the time police arrived, Pritchard was gone. Young said Pritchard had an AR-15 and a 9mm handgun.

Police advised Young of the process to receive an order of protection against Pritchard and began patrolling the area for Pritchard's vehicle.

Shortly before 11:30 p.m., police were called back to Young's residence, where the caller said there were two gunshot victims. Young had been shot twice and had a faint pulse when police arrived, and Veronica Smith suffered a gunshot wound to the thigh, records state.

Smith identified Pritchard as the shooter, according to court records.

Regina Harris, Young's mother, told police she heard Pritchard tell Young that if he couldn't "have" her, "nobody will."

Also at Young's home during the incident were James Williams, her boyfriend; and her son.

Pritchard was arrested during a traffic stop that evening. According to court records, during an interview with police, Pritchard first said he had not returned to Young's home after his initial visit that evening. He also said he had lost his handgun, records state.

Later, Pritchard requested a second interview with police, where he claimed to have picked up a hitchhiker who requested a ride to Young's house in order to see Williams. Pritchard said the unknown man stole his handgun and his car keys once they arrived at the residence, then ran around the house before returning, at which point Pritchard drove him to a convenience store, records state.

Police confronted Pritchard about previous statements he'd made to Young, including a threat to "dig up Young's dead baby and bring it back and put it on her porch." Records state police had previously received reports about Pritchard stealing Young's clothes and flattening her tires and busting out her car windows.

Pritchard has been transferred to the Ouachita River Correctional Unit.

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