JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – State Attorney Melissa Nelson on Monday announced the return of a guilty verdict by a Duval County jury of first-degree murder and other charges in the trial of a man accused of ordering his stepbrother to kill a witness from jail.
Jecorian McCray was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and tampering with a witness, victim or informant. Following the sentencing portion of the trial, the jury determined McCray should get mandatory life in prison. A formal sentencing hearing is forthcoming.
Testimony in the trial began Wednesday, and the jury began deliberations Friday.
McCray, 28, is guilty in the 2016 shooting death of University of North Florida information technology engineer Joe Brenton. He was initially arrested in a 2014 burglary at Brenton’s home in Oceanway.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office responded to the homicide call on Sept. 21, 2016, where Brenton was found dead of several gunshot wounds. Investigators determined that McCray, who was in jail and through jail calls ordered his brother, Dakarai Maxwell, to kill Brenton.
According to investigators, the order against Brenton was due to Brenton’s scheduled testimony against McCray and Maxwell in a related burglary case in which the brothers were suspected of breaking into Brenton’s home and were caught on surveillance cameras.
As noted by the state attorney’s office in its news release, McCray made mentions of the trial during the jail calls “his need to have Brenton eliminated as a witness before being able to testify against him.”
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Maxwell, 22, is charged with first-degree murder as the accused shooter. He’ll be tried separately.
Two others were arrested as accomplices and have pleaded guilty.