By Joe Gorman
A woman whose theft of electricity in March 2012 led to the murder of a man, police say, entered guilty pleas Monday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to charges of tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice.
Prosecutors are recommending a sentence of three years for Jasmine Fletcher, 23, contingent on her testimony against her co-defendant, Michael Paige, 22, who faces a charge of aggravated murder in the death of Munir Blake, 31, at an apartment building in the 200 block of Lora Avenue on March 1, 2012.
Paige’s trial still will take place this week.
Police said Fletcher was stealing electricity from Blake, and when Blake confronted her, Paige shot him.
Fletcher originally was charged by police with Blake’s death, but Paige admitted he was the one who fired the shots, police said.
In a hearing before Judge Maureen Sweeney in October 2012, Blake tried to suppress his confession to police, saying that he agreed to confess the shooting when he was told he would not be charged with aggravated murder. Blake also said he smoked marijuana in the parking lot of the police station before he was interviewed by the police and he was under the influence at the time of his interview by detectives.
Judge Sweeney overruled Paige’s request to have his statement thrown out.
Police had been called to the apartment before by Blake, who complained that Fletcher had her electricity turned off so she was stealing his. Blake lived upstairs from Fletcher.
The day after police were called about the theft, they returned for the shooting.
A man at the scene tending to Blake told police two of Blake’s children pounded on his door and told him that their father had just been shot.
Fletcher was indicted on the obstruction and tampering charges, which are both third-degree felonies. The maximum sentence she could receive is 72 months. She is free on bond, but Judge Sweeney told her if she failed to show up to testify, her bond will be revoked.
Fletcher gave a statement to prosecutors before her hearing took place. Assistant Prosecutor Rob Andrews said he did not want to comment on the specifics of Fletcher’s charges before the trial.
A sentencing date for Fletcher has not been set.