56ºF

Man accused of ordering stepbrother to kill witness pleads not guilty

Jecorian McCray ordered the murder from jail, police say

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man accused of ordering his stepbrother to kill a witness from jail pleaded not guilty at his arraignment for first-degree murder on Tuesday.

Jecorian McCray is accused in the killing of UNF IT engineer Joe Brenton. McCray, accused of ordering his stepbrother to kill Brenton from jail.

Evidence photos obtained by News4Jax appear to show McCray, 24, and his 17-year-old stepbrother, Dakarai Maxwell, searching a bedroom Brenton's home for prescription drugs. Police said jewelry and checks were also stolen.

"They've got it on video," a detective told McCray after he was arrested. "I've got you on video wiping your fingerprints off a light switch and searching through the jewelry box."

Jailhouse calls released in January detailed what police say is McCray ordering a hit against Brenton, which was carried out by Maxwell. Brenton was shot and killed at his Oceanway home in September, hours before he was slated to testify against McCray in the 2014 burglary case.

Police said McCray ordered a hit on Joe Brenton, 48, to keep him from testifying when McCray's burglary case went to trial. They said McCray, worried about prison time, persuaded Maxwell and others to take part.

Police said McCray, who had been in jail since January 2015 on the burglary charges, can be heard in the jailhouse calls giving detailed instructions to Maxwell about killing someone.

McCray sounds desperate, saying, “Wednesday is the deadline,” and that “after Wednesday, there's nothing else” because he'll be convicted. Several times, McCray tells Maxwell to “get that handled up.”

Detectives investigating the homicide listened to the jail recordings, which also include McCray talking about getting his 21-year-old girlfriend, Teirany Shelton, to visit Brenton's home and ask him to take back his statements about the burglary because McCray was "looking at 30 years."

McCray is scheduled to be back in court September 13.