More on Page's third degree murder conviction

A jury reaches a verdict in the Merle Page murder trial after more than four hours of deliberations.  Merle Page is found guilty of third-degree murder.

The jury started deliberating around 11 this morning in the Merle Page murder trial and came back around 3:30 with a final decision.  A verdict of guilty of murder in the third degree, the verdict the defense was after.  Page was accused of shooting and killing Marcel Flemings at the Shell Gas Station on East 6th and Parade streets almost one year ago. 

Defense Attorney Eric Hackwelder stressed throughout the case that it was not a case of whodunnit, there is in-color surveillance footage clearly showing the fight between Page and Flemings and the shooting incident.  So, the jury was to decide the degree of murder. 

Hackwelder claimed there was no premeditation, a key for a first-degree murder charge.  The DA's Office, hoping for a first-degree conviction, maintained that Page made the conscious intent to kill.  

In the end, the jury siding with the defense left the family of the victim trying to come to terms with the verdict.  Darnell Flemings, the victim's brother, says, "we [were] hoping first [degree murder conviction], but he got third, so he's never gonna see the streets.  That's a long time behind bars for a senseless crime.  Now, he can sit and think about everything he... did."

Sherri Taylor, Flemings' Mother, says, "it really hurt me but 60 years is a long time. I am 52 going on 53 and I am not going to see... 60 years, I won't live to be 100 or something, so yeah, justice has been served for me".

Paul Sellers, Assistant DA, says, "we felt there was certain intent in Merle's actions, here, but we understand that it happened quickly and other things were happening that night and the defendant is still looking at 60 years".

Hackwelder says, "we do believe that that was the right call by the jury.  I know that they thought long and hard about it and I do believe it is the right verdict in this case".

Third-degree murder carries a sentencing guideline of 20 to 40 years behind bars, but Page was found guilty of a few other charges including recklessly endangering another person and possessing an instrument of crime, so that may add on to the sentence."

Judge Cunningham scheduled Page's sentencing for February 21st.

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