Second trial underway in electricity murder case
By Joe Gorman
For the second time, a man is on trial in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for a 2012 dispute over stolen electricity that ended with the death of a man on the North Side.
Opening statements and testimony began Thursday before Judge Maureen Sweeney in the case against Michael Paige, 26, who is accused of killing Munir Blake, 31, March 1, 2012, during an argument over electricity in a Lora Avenue apartment building.
Paige was tried on the charges in 2014, and jurors found him not guilty of aggravated murder. The jurors, however, deadlocked on charges of murder, voluntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence. Prosecutors opted to retry him for murder.
Jurors in the case were selected Wednesday and they viewed the crime late Wednesday afternoon before returning to the courthouse Thursday for opening statements.
In his opening statement, Assistant Prosecutor Michael Rich told jurors a woman in Blake’s apartment building, Jasmine Fletcher, was cutting into Blake’s electricity and he confronted her about it.
Rich said that Blake’s three children heard the argument, heard Paige show up and say he would shoot Blake. They said they heard Paige run upstairs to Fletcher’s apartment to get a gun, came back down the stairs and then shot Blake. Blake was shot nine times.
“It’s that voice they [children] hear, saying, ‘I’m going to shoot you,’” Rich said. “It was not Jasmine’s voice.”
Paige’s attorney, Mark Lavelle, said no one ever saw his client and his client was not the one who was speaking in the hallway that the children heard.
Lavelle added it was Fletcher was stealing the electricity, and she had gunshot residue on her after the shooting while Paige did not.
He also said Fletcher was not charged by police with Blake’s murder but she did face a charge of tampering with evidence.