aggravated-murder charge City man: Throw out my confession to cops

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


A city man accused of murder wants his confession to police to be thrown out because he said he was too high on drugs to understand what he was doing or saying.

Michael Paige, 20, and his cousin, Jasmin Fletcher, 21, both charged with the March 1 shooting death of 31-year-old Munir Blake, appeared Tuesday before Judge Maureen Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Paige and Fletcher are both asking to have their cases tried separately, and Paige is asking the court to suppress statements he made to police.

Paige is charged with aggravated murder. Fletcher is charged with tampering with evidence and obstructing justice.

Police said Blake called police Feb. 29 to complain about Fletcher stealing his electricity.

Police came out to the Lora Avenue duplex and disconnected the illegal line the same day.

Fletcher, police said, then purchased another cord and was attempting to begin stealing Blake’s electricity again March 1.

When Blake confronted her, he was shot dead.

Originally, Fletcher was accused of the shooting, but Paige surrendered to police, who said he admitted firing the fatal shots.

That confession took center stage in court Tuesday.

Paige is asking the court to throw out statements made to police March 2 and March 3.

Paige took the stand during the hearing and told the court he told arresting officers he made it to the 11th grade in school, but in reality only made it to the eighth grade.

Lawyers Doug Taylor and Tim Cumming, representing Paige, introduced reports cards from Paige’s eighth-grade year showing he received all failing marks for that year.

Paige also testified he had been diagnosed with mental illnesses and received treatment for those disorders, but his drug-induced state of mind was a major point of concern for defense attorneys.

Paige told the court he said during the March 2 interview with police that Fletcher shot and killed Blake.

Paige told the court the following morning, however, he woke up and smoked a considerable amount of marijuana before learning there was a warrant for his arrest.

He said he turned himself in to police, but sat outside the police station taking prescription pills and smoking marijuana before surrendering.

Paige said he initially told police the same story as the day before — that Fletcher did the shooting, but changed that story after a police officer assured him he could get a better deal if he changed his story.

He ultimately said he shot and killed Blake.

Paige admitted he was given papers explaining his rights but said that he was so high the information “went in one ear and out the other.”

Paige and Fletcher are both asking they be tried separately, saying each will likely offer testimony that could be damaging to the other.

Judge Sweeney said she will take both motions under advisement and issue a ruling at a later time.

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