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Jury selection underway in Paige case

Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson and defense attorney Fred Jones take a break in the middle of jury selection Tuesday morning in Clayton County Superior Court. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats

Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson and defense attorney Fred Jones take a break in the middle of jury selection Tuesday morning in Clayton County Superior Court. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats

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Thomas Areeco Paige

JONESBORO — Testimony is slated to begin this week after jurors are seated in the case of a man accused of hitting a Clayton County police officer after allegedly being caught in the act of burglary.

Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson and Senior Assistant District Attorney Jeff Gore represent the state in the case against Thomas Areeco Paige. Fred Jones is Paige’s attorney. Jury selection was underway at press time.

Paige, 38, has been in Clayton County Jail since his arrest. He faces more than 150 years in prison if convicted on 14 counts in the indictment returned in March 2013.

The charges include aggravated assault with intent to murder, four counts of aggravated battery on a police officer, two counts of aggravated assault on two other police officers, serious injury by vehicle, reckless driving, burglary, hit and run, obstruction of an officer, possession of tools for the commission of a crime and loitering or prowling.

Clayton County police Officer Michael Hooks was seriously injured when he was hit by a car while responding to a call about suspicious activity at a vacant former Kmart building near I-75. Witnesses said it appeared Paige deliberately aimed for Hooks.

Hooks underwent several surgeries during his recovery.

Paige’s co-defendant, Jabari Akil Jackson, 34, of Marietta pleaded guilty in June 2013 to commercial burglary and obstruction of an officer. He was sentenced to 12 months to serve and five years on probation, to be served concurrently. The state dropped charges of loitering and possession of tools used for the commission of a crime.

Police said the pair were stealing metal from behind an abandoned building on Frontage Road near I-75. Paige was driving a pick-up truck and tried to flee the scene but hit Hooks and wrecked, said police. Officers said he fled on foot and was arrested about a week later in Gwinnett County.

Paige was indicted in May 2013 for theft by taking in a separate case. Prosecutors said Paige took heavy equipment valued at more than $25,000 from Trax Inc. Nov. 29 and Dec. 12, 2012, the same day he is charged with hitting Hooks with his car.

According to Georgia Department of Corrections, Paige has a long criminal history. He was most recently paroled in 2009 after serving two years for burglary, false report of a crime, loitering, possession of tools to commit a crime and obstruction of an officer.

His prior prison terms were four months in 2001, a year from 2002 to 2003 and two years from 2004 to 2006. His prior convictions include theft by receiving stolen property and interference with government property.