Family of murder victim: "You can't judge a book by its cover"


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The family of 44-year-old murder victim John C. Spratt, of Utica, loved him - all of him.

"He wasn't the best person in the world, we all make mistakes," says Pratt's Uncle Benjamin Walker. "You can't judge a book by its cover. You've got to judge a book by its character."

Walker and several other relatives gathered outside the 1700 block of Whitesboro Street Thursday afternoon. It's where Spratt lived with another Uncle, James Walker. It's also across the street from where Spratt was shot multiple times and killed around 9:45 Wednesday night, in a doorway near Mahanna's Market.

The Walkers say that while their nephew made some bad choices - choices that landed him in state prison on drug and weapon charges - that was in the past. They say they knew a very different side of Spratt in recent years - many loving little gestures that don't make headlines, but that they saw every day.

"He got a lot of nieces.... and everything. He would take them to the store or take them to Addison Miller swimming. He would come here and sweep down the driveway," said Benjamin Walker.

The uncle with whom Spratt lived says he saw his nephew just minutes before he was shot and killed, and that there was no sign anything was bothering him.

"He was at peace. He didn't show no animosity, no anger no bitterness. He was happy," said James Walker.

Friends and family of John Spratt made a memorial of candles and flowers next to the spot where he was killed. They say they're waiting for answers and justice.

"He didn't have to go the way that he did," said cousin James House. "It's sad and I'm saddened that he did have to go the way that he did but it's a peaceful family, it's a forgiving family and I feel justice will prevail in the legal system."

Utica Police ask anyone with any information about the fatal shooting to call them at 315-223-3510.

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