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Teen accused of killing UNF employee to be tried as adult

Teen accused of following brother's orders in slaying ordered held without bond

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 17-year-old accused of murder in the shooting death of a University of North Florida employee will be prosecuted as an adult, the State Attorney's Office decided Monday.

Dakarai Maxwell was ordered held without bond Tuesday.

Maxwell is charged with shooting Joe Brenton, 48, at Brenton's Oceanway home last month, just hours before Brenton was slated to testify in court against Maxwell’s stepbrother Jecorian McCray.

McCray is awaiting trial for breaking into Brenton’s home in 2014.

Investigators said McCray ordered Maxwell to silence Brenton.

Maxwell is due back in court Oct. 31.

Bond denied for man accused of arranging murder

McCray, 23, is also charged with Brenton's murder and is being held without bond. He pleaded not guilty to those charges Tuesday, and his next pretrial court date will be Nov. 9.

Brenton was found dead inside his home on VC Johnson Road just before 3 a.m.

According to court records, Brenton and his wife were due to testify later that day at the trial of McCray, who is accused of burglarizing the home, which is on a dead-end road north of Dunn Avenue. 

Detectives investigating the homicide listened to jail recordings of McCray talking on the phone with Maxwell, and heard them talking about getting McCray's 21-year-old girlfriend, Teirany Shelton, to visit the Brentons and ask him to take back his statements about the burglary because McCray was "looking at 30 years."

"When he learned the bribery didn't work (Tuesday night), he told Dakarai that he needed to kill him," Lt. Steve Gallaher said. "He walked Dakarai step-by-step through the process of how to kill him. In the morning, the murder occurred, just like he was instructed to do."

Acting on information in those recordings, police obtained arrest warrants charging McCray and Maxwell with murder, 19-year-old Demetris Ford with criminal conspiracy and Shelton with tampering with a witness.

"He convinced them that they needed to convince the Brentons to either change their story or not testify," Gallaher said. 

Prosecutors said home surveillance video showed McCray and Maxwell, who were acquaintances of Brenton's daughter, inside the home on Jan. 29. According to the police report, jewelry, checks and prescription painkillers were taken in the burglary.

A jury for McCray's trial was seated but a mistrial motion was granted after Brenton's slaying.