Murder Under The Friday Night Lights is examining the murder of Terrance ‘TK’ Kelly, a promising young football player who Darren Pratcher gunned down in Richmond, California.
Kelly was a gifted linebacker who was just two days away from leaving for the University of Oregon to take up a football scholarship when Pratcher murdered him.
On August 12, 2004, Kelly was sitting in his car outside a Richmond home waiting to give his stepbrother a ride home when 15-year-old Pratcher opened fire with a .22-caliber rifle. Kelly was struck four times, once in the back and three times in the head.
One of the bullets penetrated the 18-year-old’s heart which was the suspected cause of death. He was found lying on the ground with one foot still in his car.
Darren Pratcher’s fingerprint was on the murder weapon
The cops located the murder weapon in a nearby yard, and crucially it had one of Pratcher’s fingerprints on it. Several eyewitnesses also admitted to seeing Pratcher with the firearm.
The police suspected that the motive stemmed from a basketball game the previous summer. There had been some argument or comment between Kelly and Pratcher that angered the latter, who saw it as disrespectful.
At the trial, Pratcher’s lawyer tried to argue that Kelly’s murder had been an accident and that he should be convicted of manslaughter. They claimed that Pratcher feared for his life over another incident and had shot his victim in a tragic case of mistaken identity.
However, the judge wasn’t buying that version of events. Pratcher was found guilty of first-degree murder and was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.
At the sentencing, the judge remarked: “To have young people killing young people is truly a tragedy for everyone. And I think that Richmond has seen more than its share. I don’t do this easily. It makes me extremely sad that we’re here today.”
More from Murder Under The Friday Night Lights
Follow the links to read about more high school football-related murders.
Juan Joseph was a respected high school teacher and former football player who tried to defuse a tense situation outside a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, night. Unfortunately, he was brutally gunned down by Jamarcus Goodman.
The death of teenager Thomas “Tom” Brown one night in Canadian, Texas, in 2016 remains a complete mystery. The investigators are still unable to tell if it was suicide, an accident, or murder. However, there is suspicion that town members were running a high stake gambling ring, which has led to accusations of a cover-up.
Murder Under The Friday Night Lights airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.