Man who pleaded guilty in 2016 shooting death of UNF employee sentenced to life in prison

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Man who previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2016 deadly shooting of a University of North Florida employee was sentenced to life in prison Friday.

Court records show Dakarai Maxwell, who was 17 years old at the time of the murder, was ordered by his stepbrother Jecorian McCray, who was already in jail, to kill UNF information technology engineer Joe Brenton.

Brenton was found shot to death in September 2016. According to investigators, McCray told Maxwell to kill the UNF employee because Brenton was supposed to testify against McCray in a 2014 burglary case in which the brothers were caught on camera breaking into Brenton’s home.

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In court Friday, Maxwell apologized to his and Brenton’s family for his participation in the murder. He also denied being the shooter.

Judge Tatiana Salvador sentenced him to life in prison with review after 25 years and gave him credit for 5 years served in jail.

Maxwell believed he would get a lighter sentence and told the judge he wanted to withdraw his plea. She told him he could appeal the sentence.

McCray was convicted of murder in May 2022 and is serving life without parole.