Murder suspect’s statement ruled admissible

By Peter H. Milliken


A statement made to police by a suspect in a homicide stemming from a purported theft of electricity is admissible in his trial, a judge has ruled.

Judge Maureen A. Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court made the ruling Thursday in the case of Michael Paige, 20, of Bennington Avenue, who is charged with aggravated murder in the March 1 shooting death of 31-year-old Munir Blake.

Paige testified in a hearing on his motion to exclude the statement from evidence that he received failing scores on his eighth-grade report card and never finished ninth grade.

Judge Sweeney, however, concluded police properly warned Paige of his right to remain silent before interviewing him, and that Paige “knowingly and voluntarily waived his constitutional rights.”

The judge wrote in her judgment entry: “There is nothing to suggest that the defendant did not comprehend his actions or that he was coerced in any way to waive his constitutional rights.”

If he’s convicted of aggravated murder, Paige faces 23 years to life in prison.

Paige’s cousin, Jasmin Fletcher, 22, and Blake, were neighbors in a Lora Avenue duplex on the city’s North Side, when Blake confronted Fletcher over her alleged theft of his electricity, police said.

During that confrontation, Paige shot Blake, police said, adding that Paige admitted firing the fatal shots.

Paige and Fletcher face a tampering with evidence charge alleging concealment or removal of the firearm, and Fletcher faces an obstructing justice charge alleging she lied to hinder the investigation.

Judge Sweeney set a final pretrial hearing for Paige and Fletcher for 10 a.m. Nov. 8 for the purpose of setting their trial date.

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