A 19-year-old Bridesburg man who told police he stabbed his mother to death after arguing about cleaning his room was held for trial on murder Wednesday by a Philadelphia judge.
Zackary Pritchett is charged with the March 27 slaying of his mother, Melizza Wiley, 53, in a predawn attack in their home in the 2800 block of Reynolds Street.
Municipal Court Judge Teresa Carr Deni also ordered Pritchett to stand trial for attempted murder for the stabbing of his 74-year-old grandmother Joan Wiley.
The sole witness at the preliminary hearing was Homicide Detective Brian Peters, who read Pritchett's four-page statement in which he admitted the stabbings and making up a story that three masked men broke in and committed the crimes.
According to Pritchett's statement, he and his mother argued at about 2:30 a.m. about trash in his bedroom. Pritchett said "I told her I didn't care at that point how my room looked."
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"She got angry and hit me," the statement continued. "She ended up going to bed without another word."
Pritchett told police he cried for awhile "thinking about everything she had done, all the abuse that I've had. It just built up and I just snapped."
About 5:30 a.m., Pritchett's statement says, he got a knife from the kitchen and sneaked into his mother's third-floor bedroom and started stabbing her as she slept. With his hands cut in the attack and his mother awake and fighting back, he smothered her with a pillow.
Pritchett's statement says he then stabbed his grandmother, who was in a hospital bed on the first floor. He said he realized what he was doing, stopped and told his grandmother to tell police three men broke in and did it.
Joan Wiley remains on life support and has not been able to be interviewed about the attack, according to Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore.
After the stabbings, Pritchett took his mother's pocket book outside and threw it over a neighbor's fence, returned home and called 911, according to the statement.
Defense attorney Daniel Conner focused on Pritchett's state of mind at the time of the crime, questioning Peters about the teen's claim that he "just snapped." Peters said had no way of evaluating that.
Pritchett, in a later videotaped statement, complained of physical abuse by his mother as well as their poverty and the state of the house, the prosecutor said.