Jurors find Jermail Blake guilty of voluntary manslaughter
By Shavonne Walker
Jurors on Friday found Jermail Blake guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the murder of local barber Altereck Shields — a decision that came after about four hours of deliberation and three days of listening to evidence in the 2016 case.
Blake, 39, was taken into custody and is scheduled return to court for sentencing. Superior Court Judge Anna Mills Wagoner said she would hold a sentencing hearing today.
He was originally charged with second-degree murder, but jurors were given the option to choose voluntary manslaughter as well as not guilty.
On New Year’s Eve, Shields and Blake were at the home of Anthony Angle Sr., who lived at 180 Apex Lane, Cleveland. Angle told the court during his testimony that Blake was his cousin and Shields was his friend.
Shields arrived at the home to talk with Angle following the death of his grandmother. He attended a funeral in New Jersey and had just returned to North Carolina. Blake reportedly went to his cousin’s home to buy a gram of cocaine.
Per Angle’s testimony, Blake allegedly snorted half a gram of the cocaine and drank while there. Additionally, there were a number of other people at the home all of whom were drinking. Two of the other men at the house that night — Paul Andrade and Denerio Robinson gave varying statements on the witness stand. Robinson is the brother-in-law of Shields. Andrade, who was a friend of Shields, drove Shields to the house.
Based on his 911 call and his own testimony, Angle also had conflicting accounts of that night.
There were different accounts of what Shields and Blake actually fought over — gang tattoos or the mother of Blake’s children. There was also a discrepancy as to whether the men fought inside the house, were kicked out by Angle and forced to continue fighting outside or whether the men attempted to pull Blake and Shields apart and they fought in the backyard.
What is clear is that Blake and Shields were involved in a scuffle. The two wrestled on the ground with Shields on top of Blake. Then Blake reportedly pulled a large kitchen knife that he’d gotten from Angle’s kitchen and stabbed Shields.
According to the medical examiner’s autopsy report, Shields was stabbed three times — once in the chest, the side near the ribs and the arm above the elbow.
According to the testimony, once everyone realized Shields was dead, they turned their attention to Blake and began beating him up. Robinson testified that he beat Blake up to the point that he couldn’t feel his own hands.
A bloody Blake went back into the house and pleaded with his cousin for help. Angle told the court that afterward, he called 911 and everyone left.
In his closing statement, which lasted nearly an hour, Assistant District Attorney Clayton Jones said Blake brought a knife to a fistfight.
Jones put on rubber gloves and held up the large silver kitchen knife in front of jurors.
“It’s not a pocket knife or a hunting knife,” Jones said. “Before the first punch was ever thrown, he had a knife that was brought to a fistfight.”
Jones showed a picture of a deceased Shields lying on the frosty ground. Members of Shields’ family began crying to the point that some of them had to leave the courtroom.
“All of these wounds were made with this knife,” Jones said.
He said most people who get into a fistfight expect to, at the worst, lose a tooth or get a black eye, not die.
Blake’s attorney Chris Sease said in his 20-minute closing arguments that the case was like a puzzle and there were missing pieces.
Sease pointed to the different testimonies given by Andrade, Angle and Robinson. He said, based on the men’s testimony, there should only be one stab wound.
Sease also said his client’s DNA was not found on the knife handle. Sease said the state’s witness, Angle, even said he wasn’t outside and he didn’t know what happened.
“There’s no evidence that Mr. Blake did anything to provoke Mr. Shields,” Sease said.
He asked jurors to consider self-defense as a motive.
The trial resumes today at 9:30 a.m. with sentencing.
Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.
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