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News Frank Pruitt will not face the death penalty

Frank Kelly PruittProsecutor says he will not pursue capital punishment.

An Otto couple facing the charge of first degree murder in the death of their son will not face the death penalty, prosecutors declared earlier this week.

On Monday, Frank Kelly Pruitt, 62, sat in his wheelchair, awaiting the outcome of his Rule 24 hearing. The proceedings, held in Macon County Superior Court, would determine whether or not he would face the death penalty.

Pruitt, who on July 8, allegedly shot and killed his 34-year-old son Robert Pruitt at his Coweeta Lab Road home, faced the possibility of either life in prison without parole or the death penalty, pursuant to his first degree murder charge. Around the time of the incident, Frank Pruitt had called 9-1-1and declared to dispatch that he was going to shoot his son on the grounds that he was armed and drunk.

According to a Sept. 18 toxicology report released by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Chapel Hill, James Robert Pruitt in fact had no alcohol, cocaine or opiates in his system. However atropine, caffeine and nicotine were among the substances present in his blood.

Kathy Paulette PruittThe jailer wheeled Pruitt before Judge Charles Ginn at approximately 2 p.m. His Attorney David Belser stood beside him as Assistant District Attorney Jason Arnold declared the prosecution would not pursue the death penalty. Additionally, Ginn granted the state’s request to hold Pruitt in safekeeping due to his poor health. Pruitt will be held in a Department of Corrections medical facility in Raleigh pending the outcome of his case. The defense was not opposed to the order.

Arnold indicated to Ginn that forensic evidence found at the scene of the crime was still being processed.

Frank Pruitt’s wife, 53-yearold Kathy Paulette Pruitt, shares her husband’s charge of first degree murder and last month prosecutors declared that they would not seek the death penalty for her.

Instead, if convicted of the offense, the Pruitts will face life in prison without the possibility of parole. Kathy, who appeared to be sobbing before the judge, was present for the proceedings along with her husband.

The husband’s court-appointed attorney, Randy Seago, had withdrawn from the case due to physical illness, after his colleague Mark Melrose filed for his release. According to the Clerk of Court’s office, Asheville-based David Belser was appointed as his new attorney.

According to reports, the husband was initially charged with second degree murder for fatally shooting his son following a heated argument at his Coweeta Lab Road residence. Kathy was initially charged with resisting, obstructing or delaying an officer on July 8. Before the month ended, the couple was charged with additional offenses, including soliciting to commit murder, assault with a deadly weapon and first degree murder.

The case was continued for the Oct. 29 administrative docket of Macon County Superior Court. Both Frank and Kathy Pruitt are being held without bond.


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