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Juan Ignacio Blanco  

 

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Rennie PRATT

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Domestic dispute
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 10, 2009
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: April 9, 1981
Victim profile: Michael E. Porcella, 36 (her boyfriend)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to 21 years in prison on June 24, 2011
 
 

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Manslaughter for woman who shot lawyer boyfriend

By Henry K. Lee - San Francisco Chronicle

Friday, March 25, 2011

An Oakland woman has been convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of her boyfriend, an attorney in a prominent East Bay criminal defense firm, a prosecutor said Friday.

Rennie Pratt, 29, had been charged with murder in the 2009 slaying of 36-year-old Michael Porcella. An Alameda County jury convicted her Thursday of voluntary manslaughter and an enhancement for using a gun.

She faces a sentence of anywhere from three to 21 years in prison when Judge Morris Jacobson sentences her June 24.

Pratt was in the house she shared with Porcella at 3740 Laguna Ave. in Oakland's Dimond district when she shot him at about 11:30 p.m. April 10, 2009, as he was arriving home.

"He was outside on the porch when he was shot," said prosecutor Jill Nerone. "I hoped the jury would view the evidence as a premeditated murder while lying in wait."

The jury, however, acquitted Pratt of murder. She testified that she had accidentally shot her boyfriend as she was trying to unload the weapon.

The killing was the culmination of a number of domestic disputes involving the couple, authorities said. Police were previously called to the home, but no arrests were ever made.

The jury ruled out the accidental-discharge theory but could not dismiss the possibility of "imperfect self-defense," in which someone overreacts and attacks a perceived aggressor when in fact the target intends no harm, the prosecutor said.

Porcella worked in the Oakland law firm of Robert Beles. He graduated from St. Mary's College in Moraga and earned his law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco. He was admitted to the State Bar in 2006.


Rennie Pratt accused of murdering her boyfriend in Oakland said it was an accident

Fugitive.com

March 16, 2011

A woman accused of murdering her attorney boyfriend at his home in Oakland two years ago admitted in court today that she fired the shot that killed him but said it was an accident. Rennie Pratt, who worked as a barber in Walnut Creek and Dublin, said she was trying to unload a .45-caliber handgun owned by 36-year-old Michael Porcella at his house at 3740 Laguna Ave. the night of April 10, 2009, because she was afraid he might harm her, as they had a volatile relationship. Pratt said she spotted the gun when she came to Porcella’s home to collect her belongings after attending an Oakland A’s baseball game that night. She said she didn’t know he was on the house’s porch at the time.

Pratt, 29, who is being held without bail at the county jail, said the gun “kept getting jammed” as she was trying to remove bullets from it and then “it went off.” She said, “It was the loudest pop I can remember in my life.” Pratt said that after the gun went off she saw Porcella lying sideways on the porch. She said Porcella didn’t respond when she called his name and then she noticed that he was bleeding. ”I was just really freaking out because he was bleeding,” Pratt said. “I was just saying ‘oh my God!’”

Porcella was admitted to the State Bar on March 23, 2006, and worked for the Robert Beles law firm in Oakland, which specializes in criminal defense. Beles’ daughter, Anne Beles, another attorney in the firm, said shortly after Porcella was killed that he had been laid off in the summer of 2008 for economic reasons but continued to work part-time for the firm and made appearances in court cases. She said Porcella graduated from Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland and St. Mary’s College in Moraga, and earned his law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco. After Porcella was killed, Oakland police said they had been called to his home several times to respond to domestic disputes involving Porcella and Pratt but no arrests had been made.

Pratt said that after the A’s baseball game, she got a ride to Porcella’s home from a woman she met at the game and they immediately hit it off and they talked about her relationship with Porcella. Pratt said told the woman that Porcella “was being abusive again” and she was leaving him. She said she went to his house that night to collect her belongings. Prosecutor Jill Nerone expressed skepticism about Pratt’s testimony that the reason Pratt had Porcella’s .45-caliber gun was that she felt in danger. Nerone pointed out that Porcella had two rifles and another handgun at his home but Pratt hadn’t unloaded those weapons. Pratt said she only focused on the .45-caliber gun because she happened to see it while she was looking for her car keys. ”I wasn’t looking for a gun — I was looking for my car keys,” Pratt said. Testimony in Pratt’s trial will conclude on Thursday and Nerone and defense attorney Brian Bloom will present their closing arguments on Monday.


Lawyer's girlfriend charged with his murder

By Henry K. Lee - San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday, April 16, 2009

An Oakland woman has been charged with murder in the shooting death of her boyfriend, an attorney in a prominent East Bay criminal defense firm.

Rennie Pratt, 28, made a brief appearance Wednesday in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland. She was ordered to return to court May 11, at which time she could enter a plea.

On Tuesday, Pratt listened intently as Judge Robert McGuiness said she had been charged with murder and an enhancement for use of a gun in Friday's slaying of 36-year-old Michael Porcella.

After McGuiness referred her to the public defender's office Tuesday, Pratt asked, "Do I still get my own attorney after that?"

Friends and colleagues of Porcella wept in the gallery during the hearing.

Pratt is accused of fatally shooting Porcella on the front porch of their home at 3740 Laguna Ave. in Oakland's Dimond district at about 11:30 p.m. Friday.

Pratt, who works as a barber, was detained at the scene and arrested a day after she turned 28, records show. She is being held without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

The killing was the culmination of a number of domestic disputes involving the couple, said Oakland homicide Sgt. Gus Galindo. Police were previously called to the home, but no arrests were made, said Officer Jeff Thomason, department spokesman.

Porcella worked in the Oakland law firm of Robert Beles. He had continued to work in Beles' law office at Oakland's Kaiser Plaza after being laid off last summer because of economic reasons.

Porcella graduated from St. Mary's College in Moraga and earned his law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco. He was admitted to the State Bar in 2006.


Oakland woman held in death of lawyer boyfriend

BHenry K. Lee - San Francisco Chronicle

Monday, April 13, 2009

An Oakland woman was being held Sunday on suspicion of murder in the shooting death of her boyfriend, an attorney in a prominent East Bay criminal defense firm.

Rennie Pratt, 28, was arrested in the Friday night slaying of Michael Porcella, 36, at his home in Oakland's Dimond District. Porcella worked in the Oakland law firm of Robert Beles.

Officers responding to reports of a gunshot found Porcella at his home at 3740 Laguna Ave. at about 11:30 p.m. Friday, said Officer Jeff Thomason, Oakland police spokesman. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Pratt, who works as a barber, was detained at the scene and arrested a day after she turned 28, records show. She is being held without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

Porcella graduated from St. Mary's College in Moraga and earned his law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco. He was admitted to the State Bar in 2006.

He had continued to work in Beles' law office at Oakland's Kaiser Plaza after being laid off last summer because of economic reasons.

"He's a very good friend," Beles' daughter, attorney Anne Beles, said Sunday. "It's pretty close to home, just an unmitigated tragedy and loss of a wonderful lawyer and a loss to the community."

Friends said Porcella was a gifted woodworker and singer who inherited his musical abilities from his parents. His mother also sang and his father played the guitar.

"Every little dinner, every kind of social event or social gathering we had, we would always egg him on to sing," said H. Ernesto Castillo, an attorney and friend. "He was just a good-hearted guy. He had a huge heart. He loved all his friends. He loved his parents the best."

 

 

 
 
 
 
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