Man rejects plea twice in shooting case

By Joe Gorman


Braylon Paige couldn’t seem to make up his mind Tuesday.

Standing before Judge Maureen Sweeney, he was about to plead guilty to five counts of felonious assault with a firearm specification for shooting up a Detroit Avenue house in September 2017.

Paige, 20, of Youngstown, told the judge he wanted a new attorney and did not want to take the plea deal despite the fact he was told the five-year sentence he was promised in exchange for his plea would be off the table and a trial would take place.

If convicted, he would face a maximum sentence of 40 years plus three additional years for a firearm specification.

Judge Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court told Paige he would not get a new deal, that the one before him was the best he would get.

Paige then relented and said he would accept the deal and enter his guilty plea.

After conferring with his attorney, Ronald Knickerbocker, just minutes later Paige was before the judge again to make his plea. When the judge asked Paige if he was making the plea “willfully and voluntarily,” or if he was “forced” to take the plea, Paige spoke up.

“Not freely,” Paige said. “I would say forced.”

With that answer, the judge walked off the bench, court was adjourned and a new court-appointed lawyer was sought for Paige.

Paige was a suspect after officers responding to a gunshot-sensor call Sept. 13, 2017, found him in a car that had bullet holes in it. Reports said it appeared from shell casings collected at the scene that people at the South Side home were firing back at the people in the car. Paige was arrested the next day at his grandmother’s home on East Lucius Avenue and has been in the county jail ever since. No one was injured in the shooting.

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