KENT COUNTY, MI – In pleading guilty to second degree murder, Michael Pagel blamed his brother for the actual murder of Pagel’s exiled wife, Renee, who was stabbed to death in 2006.
Pagel said he hired his brother to kill Renee Pagel at his home in Courtland Township when he was recovering from surgery.
He said he was not at the scene of the murder so he could make an alibi.
Pagel pleaded guilty Wednesday, May 20, to second-degree murder before 63rd District Judge Jeffrey O’Hara.
He faced at least 25 years, and lived, when he was sentenced to June 29 in the Kent County Court.
He was arrested in February in Bay City after a cold case investigation.
Renee Pagel was stabbed to death on August 5, 2006, at her home in Courtland Township. He recovered from surgery after donating a kidney to the father of one of his students at the Kent Career Technical Center.
Pagel’s statement to the judge was barely heard during the live broadcast hearing.
The judge said that Pagel claimed to have employed and encouraged his brother to kill Renee Pagel. Pagels’ finalization of their divorce was imminent when he was killed.
In a joint statement by District Attorney Kent, Chris Becker and Sheriff Michelle Lajoye-Young, the prosecutor said: “It was very nice to see him finally accepting some responsibility for his murder which he had suspected from the beginning. The children of Michael and Renee were consulted before considering an offer plea, and we decide on this action based on their response and agreement. “
The court will “be very difficult for this family,” the statement said.
The authorities said they would investigate Pagel’s claim that his brother had carried out the killing but the police had not yet decided it had happened.
“We are aware of the possibility that Michael Pagel could involve others in the actual murder when he provided a factual basis for his application. At this time, it is important to note that we are not aware of any independent evidence which can corroborate the statements made by Mr. Pagel today, “said the statement.
“If Mr. Pagel wanted to provide his version of the incident to the investigation team, they would listen to it, and follow up if he had evidence to support his claim. This office (Prosecutor) and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department are committed to holding anyone involved in the murder of Renee responsible for their actions. The statement of the defendant himself, with no more to support his version of the event, is not sufficient in itself to sue anyone, with any crime. Without supporting evidence, it is only a statement of a man who might try to save face in admitting his mistake in killing his wife, and should be treated as such. “
The kasing team received accusations against Pagel in February.
Police have learned through interviews that “Michael Pagel made incriminating statements that led to the discovery of weapons allegedly used in the murder.”
Renee Pagel was afraid that her estranged husband would try to hurt her. He told a friend “on many occasions that if something happened to him, Michael would be involved.”
He was initially charged with first degree murder which would be dismissed during the sentence as part of the defense agreement.
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