A man charged with murdering his stepson sat in a nearly empty courtroom on Friday while a D.C. homicide detective described the events that lead to the killing on Jan. 5.
The family and friends of Ronald Page did not attend the preliminary hearing for the 58-year-old D.C. murder suspect. Instead, they were at the funeral for Page’s stepson, Nicholas Satcher. While Satcher, 22, was being buried at the Cedar Hill Cemetery in Maryland Friday morning, a D.C. Superior Court Judge was finding probable cause the murder case against Page, the man who had raised Satcher.
Page is accused of shooting Satcher in the family’s home on the 4200 block of Gault Place, NE. Page identified himself as the shooter when police arrived at the scene, according to court documents. Satcher died later that night of gunshot wounds to the chest.
The question now is if Page will face first-degree or second-degree murder charges in the upcoming trial. According to defense attorney Lawrence Kupers, Page said he planned to shoot only at the ceiling of the home to scare Satcher and Page’s biological son, Adrian Page. But when the two boys “lunged at him,” Ronald shot Satcher, according Kupers.
The prosecution argued that Adrian, 17, is about 5-foot-6, 130 pounds, and Satcher is shorter than Adrian and about 5 pounds heavier, according to a police description. Ronald, however, is an imposing figure at more than 350 pounds.
“The court can see how big Mr. Page is. There wasn’t the element of fear,” argued Charles Cobb with the U.S. Attorney’s Office of D.C.
Judge Gerald Fisher said it would be hard to prove the murder was premeditated, but that the case “certainly has the elements of second-degree murder,” he said. The next hearing is April 1.
In his testimony, Metro Police Homicide Detective Jeff Clay told the court a fight between Ronald and Adrian escalated to murder after Satcher intervened to defend his brother. Ronald had confronted Adrian about missing school, and Adrian, the lead witness, told police “his father was in his face,” Clay said.
When Ronald tried to attack Adrian with a chair, Satcher jumped in to stop him. Ronald then retrieved his gun, stood in the doorway of the bedroom and shot Satcher, who was preparing to leave the house, Clay said.
Police recovered a shotgun and two handguns from the residence. Ronald frequently brandished a gun in and around the house, family members told police.
Satcher’s brother, Craig Satcher, and mother, Annie, were also in the home at the time of the murder. After her son was shot, Annie took the gun from Ronald and called the police at her husband’s request, according to interviews with police.
Page was released from jail into high-intensity supervision, where he will have a curfew, will not be allowed near his home and cannot have any contact with his wife or sons.
Heather Somerville is a freelance reporter in Washington, DC. She holds a Master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and recently completed a three-month investigation into national security and climate change, called Global Warning. Her email address is somerville.heather [at] gmail.com