Friday, January 27, 2017
By Joe Gorman
Jasmin Fletcher on Thursday not only lost her motions to vacate her guilty pleas to charges of tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice in a 2012 murder case, she also was given a sentence by Judge Maureen Sweeney two years longer than what prosecutors were recommending.
Fletcher, 26, was sentenced in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for her role in the death of Munir Blake, 31, who was shot to death March 1, 2012, in an apartment on Lora Avenue. Police said he argued with Fletcher because he caught her stealing electricity from his apartment. Police said she initially told them she had no idea who shot Blake, but changed her story later.
The man accused of killing Blake, Michael Paige, Fletcher’s cousin, was convicted of murder this month and sentenced Tuesday to 18 years to life in prison by Judge Sweeney, the maximum penalty he could get.
After the judge ruled against her motion to vacate the pleas, Fletcher tearfully apologized, saying she had no idea what to do when police were questioning her about a murder, where the suspect was a close family member.
“I’m sorry to everybody. Everybody’s suffered,” Fletcher said. “I didn’t know it would happen the way that it happened. I’ve never seen anyone killed in front of me before. It was someone in my family, and I didn’t know what to do. It’s scary to see someone die in front of you.”
Paige was tried in 2014 on charges of aggravated murder and murder but jurors found him not guilty of aggravated murder and could not reach a verdict on the murder charge, so prosecutors opted to retry him again. In 2014 Fletcher pleaded guilty to the tampering and obstruction charges and prosecutors said they would recommend a term of 36 months in prison for her provided she testified truthfully.
Under questioning from her attorney, Michael Kivlighan, Fletcher, who has had three lawyers in the case, said she did not understand the plea form she filled out in 2014 when she was represented by another attorney. Fletcher said she thought the space on the form where it said prosecutors would recommend a 36-month sentence meant probation, not prison.
Judge Sweeney said she did not believe Fletcher because Fletcher has been in prison before and knows how pleas work.
“Not understanding what it is, is basically unbelievable because she has been to prison before,” Judge Sweeney said.
Assistant Prosecutor Rob Andrews asked for a sentence exceeding the 36-month recommendation, saying that it was Fletcher’s actions that led to the argument with Blake.