This article was originally published on GoErie.com by Madeleine O’Neill on Jan 5, 2018
A fatal shooting that was largely caught on surveillance video will be the focus of a homicide trial in which testimony is set to begin next week in Erie County Court.
Jury selection is scheduled to start Friday in the trial of 27-year-old Merle A. Page Jr., who is accused in the January 2016 shooting death of Marcell Flemings, 26, at the Shell station at East Sixth and Parade streets.
Opening statements are expected Monday.
Page faces charges of homicide, aggravated assault, carrying a firearm without a license, possessing the instrument of a crime and 10 counts of reckless endangerment in the courtroom of Judge William R. Cunningham.
The prosecution has said it will seek a first-degree murder conviction, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Assistant district attorneys Paul Sellers and D. Robert Marion will try the case.
Erie police charge Page fatally shot Flemings, of Erie, during a confrontation near the gas pumps at the Shell station on Jan. 15.
Police said surveillance video showed Page and Flemings getting into a physical altercation outside the gas station in the early morning. Page could be seen on surveillance video going to a gold car, exiting it with a gun and running toward Flemings before firing the gun, knocking Flemings to the ground, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed with the criminal complaint.
Flemings was pronounced dead at UPMC Hamot a short time after the shooting. Police said at least a dozen people were present when the shooting occurred.
Page has been in the Erie County Prison without bond since Jan. 17.
His court-appointed lawyer, Stephen Sebald, was granted funding in September for a toxicologist’s evaluation to assess Page’s level of intoxication at the time of the shooting.
Sebald said then that he may present evidence of Page’s intoxication to combat the prosecution’s claim that Page committed first-degree murder, or a premeditated killing.
Erie lawyer Eric Hackwelder is representing Page with Sebald.
Two other people were also charged in connection with the shooting.
Shawnquel M. Pennamon, 26, was accused of driving Page to and from the Shell station where the shooting occurred. He pleaded guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor count of obstructing the administration of law as part of a plea bargain that required him to testify at Page’s trial if called by the prosecution.
Pennamon was sentenced in August to five to 23 months in prison.
Latashi B. Brown, 23, whose car was used by Pennamon and Page, is accused of lying about the car being stolen, and about knowing Pennamon. She faces four misdemeanor charges including obstructing the administration of law and tampering with evidence, and has applied for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, a program that grants probation to nonviolent first-time offenders in Erie County, according to court records.