By Lois Yoo
OAKLAND, CA – In a retrial of a man who was convicted in 2018 in a 2016 shooting death, one of the detectives denied here in Alameda County Superior Court this week that he threatened a defendant’s family member in an interview during a homicide shooting investigation.
Anthony Paige was convicted of killing 49-year-old Reginald Blackburn in a 2016 shooting that prosecutors contend was motivated by bad blood between the two. The defense, though, claimed Paige’s cousin was the real killer and that police had arrested the wrong man.
The Third Division of California’s First Appellate District ruled 3-0 that trial Judge C. Don Clay should have let the jury hear evidence that Paige’s cousin lied to a detective about his whereabouts during the shooting.
According to the court, “Coupled with the circumstance that the prosecution’s case was based on prosecution witnesses who gave testimony that was both exculpatory and inculpatory…it is reasonably probable that the false alibi evidence would have tipped at least one juror to entertain a reasonable doubt about defendant’s guilt,” the justices wrote.
On Dec. 7, 2016, an Oakland victim was shot in the middle of a physical altercation with now convicted defendant Anthony Eugene Paige, found guilty of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm as a felon. Paige is serving 60 years in state prison.
The victim passed away a week after the shooting due to recovery complications, and there has been a lack of clarity as to who is really responsible for the death of the victim.
Defendant Paige claims his cousin used his Fifth Amendment privilege to not testify, and should be standing in his place.
Det. Leonel Sanchez was questioned in court by Alameda County Public Defender Bao A. Doan about his interview with a witness, who was sitting right next to Paige right before the fight and shooting broke out.
The interview was supposed to be about the witness’ specific knowledge of and connection to the incident. At the time of the interview, the witness was involved in another separate case regarding a stolen vehicle.
Det. Sanchez believed that witness “seemed nervous about something other than a stolen vehicle” because he did not initially identify his own cousin within a set of photographs Sanchez had provided him.
Defense counsel Doan pointed out the detective’s aggressiveness in the transcript of his interview with the witness, where the detective said, “Don’t push me to the point where I gotta read you your rights and we gotta talk about that bullsh*t. I don’t even want to talk about that.”
Doan questioned Sanchez, “You said ‘Don’t push me to that point.’ Is that a threat?”
Det. Sanchez firmly replied, “No, it’s a fact that I don’t want to interview him regarding his stolen vehicle report. That was not of interest to me. I’m a homicide investigator. It wasn’t meant as a threat.”
Doan read another part of Sanchez’s transcript, where he said, “If I find out someone’s lying to me or not being truthful to me, then it is what it is. You go to jail.”
Sanchez clarified, “I don’t think I said it like that. I was telling him I don’t want him to go to jail. A threat would be ‘Unless you tell me this, you’re going to jail.’ I never said that. I told him I don’t want him to go to jail. I just want him to tell the truth. So that’s not a threat, how I take it. That’s not a threat, how the law takes it.”
Doan asked once more, “To you, that’s not a threat?”
Det. Sanchez responded, “Correct. That’s not a threat.”
According to the audio recordings, the witness asked Det. Sanchez, “You promise me I’ll be home with my family for the holidays?”
PD Doan continued to focus on Det. Sanchez’s reference to putting the witness in jail, “‘But if I know you’re bullsh*tting me, you’re going to jail.’ Isn’t that a threat? If you say one thing, you go home for the holidays, if you say another thing, you’re going to jail. Is that not a threat?”
Once again, Sanchez stated, “It is not.”
PD Doan noted the witness likely felt intimidated when he admitted, “The only reason I kinda got stuck on that is because I didn’t want to f*ck around and be home and this motherfucker try to do something to my mom or try to do something to my family or anything. So that shit kinda had me. I ain’t gonna lie. I’m scared of (the defendant). So at first, that’s why I was saying I don’t know that man.”
The case is continuing.