Stage pleads guilty to weapons charge; attempted murder dismissed

CLINTON — One count of attempted murder will be dismissed as part of a plea agreement in which a Fulton, Illinois, man pleaded guilty to a felony weapons charge.

Merle D. Stage, 56, of Fulton, appeared Aug. 9 in Clinton County District Court and pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm as a felon, a Class D felony.

The State will dismiss one count of attempt to commit murder, a Class B felony, and one count of intimidation with a dangerous weapon at sentencing, the plea agreement states.

The parties agreed any costs will be assessed to Stage. The plea is an open plea. Sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 12.

According to the court affidavit, at 10:37 p.m. Jan. 29, Clinton police officers were dispatched to a report of Stage shooting three rounds into a Clinton residence. The victim showed officers numerous text messages she received from Stage prior to the incident, court documents state. Stage threatened to cause the alleged victim physical harm and to kill her. A records check showed Stage to be a convicted felon in Iowa. Stage was sentenced to five years in 1998 for a felony conviction in Clinton County.