Four Charged with First-Degree Murder in Pasco Homicide

Four people were arrested in New Port Richey this week and charged with first-degree murder, two weeks after the November 10th beating death of Samuel Martinez Pratts in a vacant house.

Adam Ekdahl, Courtney Ann Keeven, Zoraina Castillo and Staci Gurney are charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery in connection with Pratts’ death. Ekdahl is also charged with two counts of dealing in stolen property for pawning Pratts’ bicycle and cellphone.

According to law enforcement, the four suspects (all of whom are 18 and 19 years old with the exception of Ekdahl, who is 24) were using drugs at the Travel Inn when Pratts approached them on his bicycle and wanted to party with them. They then allegedly lured him across the street to a vacant house with promises of drugs and sex. He went into the house with two of the girls. Ekdahl purportedly then sneaked in and beat Pratts to death with a baseball bat while Castillo held a flashlight.

Police say Ekdahl and Castillo took off Pratts’ pants, looking in the pockets for money and drugs. They claim Ekdahl went back to the house four times before someone finally tipped off the police about the body four days later. According to authorities, Ekdahl brought friends to the house on several occasions to show off Pratts’ body.

The State has not yet indicated whether it intends to seek the death penalty against any or all of the defendants in this case. If the death penalty is not pursued, they face up to life in prison if convicted. As in any multi-defendant case, it would not be surprising to see prosecutors seek the cooperation of one or more co-defendants in the prosecution against others. If that were to occur, prosecutors may recommend a reduced sentence or even reduced charges in exchange for their cooperation.

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