A North Side man was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for stabbing his West Ridge neighborhood roommates at least 20 times each, lighting their apartment on fire and then using their credit cards to fly to Las Vegas in 2012.
Dejuan Pratt, 27, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, armed robbery and aggravated arson in connection with the homicides of 64-year-old Gary Brown and 48-year-old Chun Xaio Lee, according to a statement from the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
On Tuesday, Cook County Judge Charles Burns sentenced Pratt to natural life in prison plus 30 years.
About 3:45 p.m. Aug. 28, 2012, firefighters responding to a blaze at an apartment in the 6400 block of North Sacramento found the bodies of Brown and Lee in a bedroom, prosecutors said. They also recovered a partially melted gas container from the kitchen floor.
Brown, a former Kankakee County prosecutor, had suffered about 20 stab wounds to the face, chest and abdomen and had multiple burns to his body. Lee was stabbed about 28 times in the face and neck and also had multiple abrasions to her body, prosecutors said. They were both pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators learned Pratt moved into the apartment five days earlier after Brown and Lee placed an ad for a new roommate on Craigslist, prosecutors said. On the day of the murders, Pratt told detectives that he had been attacked by three suspects and suffered a deep slash wound to his left hand as a result.
Then, on Sept. 23, 2012, Pratt posted on Facebook that he was “chillin” at the pool at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, prosecutors said. When Pratt was arrested the next day upon his arrival at O’Hare International Airport, he had the victims’ credit cards on him, which funded his flight and allowed him to make several purchases at the hotel.
Prosecutors said Pratt’s cell phone records, including tower information, indicated he was in the area of the apartment at the time of the homicides and fire.
He eventually admitted to detectives that he lied about being ambushed in his new apartment and even went back to the scene of the crime where the lifeless bodies remained after he was treated for his wound at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, the Chicago Sun-Times previously reported.
Pratt graduated from Central State University with a degree in business administration and marketing, according to previous reports. While he was an undergraduate, Pratt was on the track team and played football.