Michael Lee Paris
Charges Filed in Cold Case Homicide Investigation
On May 8, 2014, the Third Investigating Grand Jury convened by the District Attorney of Berks County issued a presentment recommending the arrest of Michael Lee Paris for the charges of Murder of the First Degree; Murder of the Third Degree; Persons Not to Possess, Use, Manufacture, Control, Sell, or Transfer Firearms; Firearms Not to be Carried Without a License; Possessing Instruments of Crime; Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Homicide.
On May 8, 2014, the presentment was accepted by Judge Thomas G. Parisi, Supervising Judge of the Investigative Grand Jury.
On May 14, 2014, based on the facts and the information obtained through the testimony, detectives from the Reading Police Department obtained a warrant of arrest for Michael Lee Paris. The warrant was issued by Magisterial District Judge Alvin Robinson.
Summary of Finding of Facts:
On or about October 19, 2012, the Reading Police Department was dispatched to the 300 block of W. Douglass Street for a report of a shooting. At this location, a male was observed with apparent gunshot wounds throughout his body. The male was later identified as the victim, Steven Crespo.
Through the course of the investigation, it was learned that on October 19, 2012, CRESPO and Richard Mateo-Sotomayor committed a burglary at 1042 Amity Street, 1st floor apartment, the apartment of "witness #1". Witness #1 stated that on Friday, October 19, 2012, her apartment was burglarized and that several electronics were taken from the apartment. Witness #1 suspected Alex Caraballo of committing the burglary. Witness #1 contacted PARIS because she was upset about the burglary and wanted PARIS to do something about it. Witness #1 told PARIS that she wanted PARIS to "fuck up" the person that committed the burglary and that Caraballo and CRESPO were "supposed to get a beating". PARIS told witness #1 that he "was going to take care of it". Witness #1 showed PARIS a Facebook photograph of Caraballo to confirm Caraballo's identity, and PARIS left witness #1's apartment.
Witness #1 texted PARIS that Caraballo and CRESPO came to her apartment. Witness #1 texted PARIS that she would be driving Caraballo and CRESPO to Schuylkill Avenue. Witness #1 drove Caraballo and CRESPO to the intersection of Schuylkill Avenue and W. Douglass Street. Witness #1 parked her car facing away from the corner store near the intersection of Schuylkill Avenue and W. Douglass Street. Witness #1 assumed PARIS followed her to the location. CRESPO got out of Witness #1's car, and within a minute, Witness #1 heard gunshots. Witness #1 then returned home and later met with PARIS. During the meeting, Witness #1 said to PARIS, he got the wrong guy. PARIS then said "it just got out of hand and he's dead". PARIS took witness #1's cell phone and told her that her phone was "hot".
Surveillance footage was also recovered from a surveillance camera located at the corner grocery store at Schuylkill Avenue and W. Douglass Street. In the surveillance footage the following was observed: (1) Witness #1's car travels south on Schuylkill Avenue; (2) Witness #1's car turns into the 400 block of W. Douglass Street; (3) Witness #1's car parks briefly in the 400 block of W. Douglass Street by a fire hydrant; (4) CRESPO is observed exiting the front passenger side of Witness #1's car; (5) CRESPO crosses the street directly in front of the surveillance camera; (6) a second vehicle arrives and stops at the stop sign located at the stop sign located at the intersection of Schuylkill Avenue and W. Douglass Street; (7) two people emerge from this second vehicle and run in the direction of CRESPO; (8) neither person is observed carrying a firearm; (9) Witness #1's car leaves the scene moments later; and (1) no one else is observed exiting Witness #1's car.
Through the course of the investigation, Reading Police Department criminal investigators interviewed Witness #2 who provided a typed statement. Witness #2 spoke with PARIS and PARIS asked Witness #2 what people were saying about the shooting. Witness #2 told PARIS that Witness #2 heard people saying that PARIS was involved. PARIS told Witness #2 that Witness #1 called him and asked him to handle something. PARIS told Witness #2 that Witness #1 wanted him to "fuck up" Caraballo. PARIS told Witness #2 that Witness #1 told him that she would be driving them near Schuylkill Avenue. PARIS told Witness #2 that PARIS drove over to the area and picked up "AC" and waited for Witness #1 to text him. PARIS further told Witness #2 that when Witness #1 texted him, PARIS and "AC" got out of the car and ran up on the guy. PARIS told Witness #2 that PARIS and "AC" both shot the guy.
Through the course of the investigation, telephone records were obtained to Witness #1's cellular telephone number as of Friday, October 19, 2012. Records were reviewed and determined that there were multiple calls after 2100 hours, between Witness #1's number and a number registered to Witness #3. During an interview of Witness #3, Witness #3 reported that cellular telephone number xxx-xxx-xxxx was used exclusively by PARIS. Witness #3 reported that PARIS called her after 2200 hours on Friday, October 19, 2012, and told her "the phone was done, you can count it as a loss, turn it off, I lost it."
Further investigation revealed that while incarcerated at Berks County Jail, PARIS had several conversations with Witness #4 between November and December 2013. During those conversations, PARIS told Witness #4 that a female had called him and complained about items being stolen from her apartment. PARIS told Witness #4 that he took care of the situation regarding the theft. PARIS told Witness #4 that Witness #1's car pulled onto W. Douglass Street on the west side of Schuylkill Avenue next to the corner store. PARIS told Witness #4 that he followed the person that got out of the car and that he "blasted the motherfucker".
In November 2007, PARIS was convicted of a felony under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, therefore, making him ineligible to possess a firearm in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Additionally, PARIS does not possess a license to carry a firearm in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.