Matt Miller, Penn Live, August 26, 2013
It is possible that even Chaz Page doesn’t know why he shot a Harrisburg woman six times at point-blank range during a petty argument in the city’s Hall Manor housing complex.
Nobody in Dauphin County Judge Deborah Essis Curcillo’s courtroom could make sense of the crime as Curcillo prepared to sentence Page on Monday morning, especially since Page wasn’t even involved in the January 2012 dispute that ended in gunfire.
As he stood before Curcillo, the only thing Page, 19, of Lower Paxton Township, had going for him was the fact that shooting victim Rikita Easter didn’t die.
So instead of sentencing Page to a potential life prison sentence for murder, Curcillo sent him to state prison for 10 to 20 years on his guilty plea to an attempted murder charge.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Stephen Zawisky and Senior Assistant Public Defender Jessica Bush agreed that Page’s case is bizarre.
Zawisky said Page shot Easter without any apparent provocation after an associate, Kinta Burnett, handed him a pistol while Burnett was in a fistfight with Easter. Bush noted that a witness testified that just before the shooting, Page had urged Burnett not to shoot Easter.
Bush said Page was on Ecstasy and PCP, two strong hallucinogenic drugs, and marijuana when the shooting occurred.
Although his mother and friends said the shooting was out of character for Page, Zawisky cited Page’s juvenile criminal record. That included a conviction for making terroristic threats at age 12 and a conviction at 13 for an aggravated assault involving a police officer, the prosecutor said.
Zawisky said the fight that led to the shooting stemmed from an argument over how one of Easter’s friends was dancing at a bar. Easter’s survival is simply miraculous, he said.
“Rakita should be dead. This should be a murder case,” he said. “She was shot from a distance of no more than 10 feet.”
Bush said Page’s family situation, specifically his lack of a stable relationship with his father, led him to trouble on the streets
“His father has 36 children, and Chaz is the youngest,” she said. “He probably doesn’t know 30 of his siblings. I think that shows his father wasn’t there for him.”
Instead, she said Page became a “lackey” of Burnett, a convicted drug dealer who “used impressionable kids to do his dirty work.”