Ex-stepfather pleads guilty in 24-year-old’s death

Gerod Studemire pleads guilty to 2nd-degree murder, abuse of dead body

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and abuse of a dead body in the death of a 24-year-old whose body was found in September 2018 behind a home on West Moncrief Road.

Jamel Kelly disappeared in March 2018. His former stepfather, Gerod Studemire, was arrested and charged with murder in May 2018. At that time, police said Kelly was believed to be dead. Kelly’s mother, Stacey Studemire, and Gerod Studemire’s girlfriend, Shaakira Atwater, were also charged in connection with Kelly’s murder.

In September 2018, Kelly’s remains were found in a shallow grave.

Investigators said Kelly was killed by Gerod Studemire after Kelly’s mother asked Gerod Studemire to confront Kelly over domestic issues.

A jury was impaneled Dec. 2 in the murder trial of Gerod Studemire and opening statements were presented Tuesday before testimony got underway.

On Friday, with the prosecution still presenting its case, Gerod Studemire decided he wanted to plead guilty to second-degree murder and abuse of a dead body.

He has a sentencing hearing on Jan. 6.

Stacey Studemire has pleaded guilty to being an accessory. Atwater is awaiting trial as an accessory.