LAWRENCEVILLE - A tumultuous relationship between two Lawrenceville brothers came to a head last week when Tracy Pirkle whipped his younger brother, Jason Pirkle, in a five-minute, shirtless brawl, a detective said Friday.
Beat down to his knees, Jason Pirkle, 31, retaliated the only way possible - stabbing his brother with a four-inch pocket knife, the detective said.
"He didn't know what else to do but stab him," Lawrenceville police Detective Neil Zellous said.
A probable cause hearing Friday in Gwinnett Magistrate Court shed light on Tracy Pirkle's May 17 stabbing death at his Hampton Square Drive apartment.
Tracy Pirkle, 30, was stabbed six times, including a fatal jab to his heart, Zellous said. The brothers had a history of violence against each other, and Tracy Pirkle had "ongoing" domestic troubles with his wife during the couple's four-year marriage, he said.
Zellous said the fight was triggered when Tracy Pirkle struck his wife Friday night after they argued about a misplaced wallet.
The victim's wife, Brittany Pirkle, 20, strongly denies that claim. She said Jason Pirkle was fueled by alcohol and prescription Xanax pills stolen from his mother.
"(Jason Pirkle) was not stepping in to help me," she said. "Whatever my husband did is irrelevant."
Zellous, the detective, said Pirkle was not given a sobriety test after he admitted to the stabbing and was arrested on scene.
Jason Pirkle faces one count of murder for allegedly killing his brother, who lived with him. He remains at the Gwinnett County Jail without bond.
Tracy Pirkle bled to death about an hour after the 11:30 p.m. incident at Gwinnett Medical Center. Police recovered a fork from his pocket that wasn't used in the fight, Zellous said.
Tracy Pirkle, a manager at Valentine Enterprises in Lawrenceville, was buried Tuesday in Buford. He leaves behind two children, a 3-year-old son and a 4-month-old infant.
Brittany Pirkle said four children were home at the time of the stabbing, including the suspect's own two children.
Jason Pirkle's criminal record in Gwinnett dates back to a marijuana possession charge in 1998. Since, he's been charged twice with aggravated stalking, probation violations, drug possession and aggravated assault against his wife, Sheila.
Sheila Pirkle filed for a protective order against her husband in October 2004. She claimed he "held a knife to my throat (and) threw me down on (a) patio and banged my head onto the cement," according to court documents.
Records show Brittany Pirkle also filed for a protective order against her husband in October 2005. She alleged that Tracy Pirkle hit her, threatened to kill her and tried to drunkenly drive off with their son, a petition says.
Magistrate Judge James Argo found probable cause Friday to bind the murder charge against Jason Pirkle to Superior Court.
Seated next to her sister, Brittany Pirkle shook visibly as the suspect was led into the courtroom in a green jumpsuit. During the detective's testimony, a bailiff warned her to quiet down.