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Conflicting testimony begins Jermail Blake murder trial

By Shavonne Walker
shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

Testimony began Tuesday in a murder trial against Jermail Blake, who is accused of stabbing Altereck Shields, a local barber, to death following a 2016 New Year’s Eve gathering at a Cleveland home.

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office charged Blake with second-degree murder.

Three witnesses reportedly there the night of the fistfight that led to Shields being stabbed to death provided some conflicting statements Tuesday pertaining to the events that led up to and occurred that night.

Anthony Angle Sr.

Jurors first heard from Anthony Angle Sr., whose home at 180 Apex Lane was where the deadly events reportedly unfolded. Angle arrived via the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Dix, New Jersey. He was arrested for cocaine distribution and is awaiting further court proceedings.

Jermail Blake is Angle’s cousin. Altereck Shields was a close friend of Angle.

On the night of the incident, Shields had just returned from his grandmother’s funeral in New Jersey and wanted to talk, Angle said.

Black went to the home to buy a gram of cocaine from Angle, according to court testimony. There were a number of other people at the home including Angle’s son, Anthony Angle Jr.; Paul Andrade, who drove Altereck Shields to the home; and Denerio “Duck” Robinson, who is the brother-in-law of Shields. It’s estimated that nine people were in the kitchen.

Angle said Andrade went to the store to buy cigarettes and beer. Angle estimated Andrade had been gone about an hour.

Angle said Blake snorted about half a gram of the cocaine and they all were in the kitchen drinking beer and liquor. According to Angle, at one point Blake was getting loud and Shields told him to quiet down and respect Angle’s house.

Angle said Blake and Shields were talking about gang tattoos. He went to check on his children, who were upstairs sleeping, because the men were getting loud. Angle said the two men were fighting when he returned.

According to Angle’s testimony, Blake and Shields weren’t fistfighting, instead locked in a “bear hug” and “scuffling.”

He said Andrade, Robinson, a man nicknamed “Flip” and another man, Will Lytle, were trying to pry the men apart. Angle said the men were ushered outside toward a sliding glass door that led to his patio where the backyard pool was located.

Angle said Blake and Shields were still scuffling and fell over a brick wall about a foot tall that separated the patio area from the rest of the yard. Angle said the two men rolled twice with Shields landing on top of Blake, pinning his hand to the ground.

Angle testified that Shields punched Blake about three times. Blake wiggled his hand free, reached up and stabbed Shields in the side, underneath his armpit area, Angle said.

Angle motioned with his arm over his head and made a stabbing motion underneath his own arm to show jurors where Shields was struck. Angle said Blake partially removed the knife and pushed it back into the wound.

Angle recognized the knife as one that was in his kitchen.

According to Angle, Blake stood up and dropped the knife as Shields was left lying on the ground.

A fight then ensued.

Angle said the men stopped and left when he told them he was dialing 911. He said Blake was crying for him to help him, but he admitted there was nothing he could do.

“That’s where the fight happened and Altereck Shields was killed,” Angle said of his backyard.

When asked by Assistant District Attorney Clayton Jones why he agreed to testify, Angle said he wanted to do the right thing.

Angle confirmed that he wasn’t offered a deal from the Rowan County District Attorney’s Office in exchange for his testimony. However, it is possible he could receive a shorter sentence in federal prison.

Angle said he drank Ciroc vodka as well as half a beer, but didn’t classify himself impaired. He added that, in addition to the cocaine Blake consumed, he also drank liquor along with Shields and Robinson. He said Shields and Blake also drank Budweiser beer.

Blake’s attorney, Chris Sease, asked if his client had been drinking prior to his arrival. Angle said he believed he had. Based on his testimony, most of the men were drinking.

When the fight went outdoors, Angle said, he was standing on his deck. Angle said he only saw Shields get stabbed once.

Cease asked if Angle “cleaned up” or removed the drugs before law enforcement arrived. Angle said there was cocaine and marijuana, but it had been used before detectives arrived.

Paul Andrade

Andrade told the court he was only at the home to drop Shields off and pick him up. Andrade said he and Shields had been friends for about 15 to 20 years. Andrade said he knew Angle as a friend of his family and they lived close to one another.

Andrade said he returned home to care for his blind 86-year-old mother. He said Shields called him around 3 a.m. to pick him up. According to Andrade, he was not impaired.

Andrade said he called Shields to say he was outside when he arrived to pick him up, but got no response. Andrade said he sat in the car for a few minutes, listened to songs on the radio and went around the back of the house.

Andrade said he saw Shields and Blake fistfighting. Contrary to Angle’s testimony that he was on the deck, Andrade said he didn’t immediately see anyone else outside. And Andrade said he didn’t recall Angle ever being outside.

Andrade said he watched Shields straddle Blake and punch him and quickly fall over. Andrade ran over to his friend, searched him for injuries and found a stab wound to his chest.

Andrade placed his hand over the wound and Shields’ head on his lap. According to his Andrade’s testimony, he did not attack Blake for killing his friend, which is the opposite of what Angle told the court.

Andrade said he called 911 and left prior to authorities’ arrival because he had to get back to his elderly mother.

 

Denerio Robinson

Denerio Robinson said he’s known Angle all of his life and knew the family of Jermail Blake, but denied really Blake himself.

Robinson, who said he had drank and smoked marijuana earlier in the day, described the atmosphere as calm until the two men began to argue. He said Blake began talking about someone sleeping with the mother of his children.

Blake was saying disrespectful things and was getting “out of line,” Robinson said.

Robinson said he wasn’t aware of any prior argument or exchange with Shields and Blake. He said Angle ushered everyone out of the house.

Like Andrade, Robinson said he didn’t immediately see a knife, but saw Shields fall to the ground.

Robinson said he became enraged when Shields, who he saw as a father figure, fall to the ground. Robinson said he began punching Blake until he couldn’t feel his hands any longer.

“He killed my brother. He took him from me. He messed my life up,” Robinson said, overcome with emotion.

Robinson said he kept punching Blake and then struck him with a large white stick, believed to be an old mop handle. Robinson said Angle pulled him off.

“We slam each other or slap box, but we don’t murder each other,” Robinson said, looking at Blake in the courtroom.

Robinson said he never saw anyone call 911.

Sease asked Robinson if he recalled cutting Blake with a piece of a mop handle. Robinson said he did not.

Other testimony

Also on Tuesday, detectives Ron Mesimer and David Earnhardt testified about collecting evidence at the Cleveland home, taking pictures and video of the crime scene. Both men said they didn’t disturb the body of Shields, only photographing his injuries.

The men testified that Shields was stabbed once in the chest and on the side underneath his armpit area. The knife was still lying beside him on the ground.

The trial resumes today at 9:30 a.m.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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