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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

20-year-old Ocala man found guilty of 2022 murder outside local convenience store

A 20-year-old Ocala man has been found guilty of second-degree murder in connection with a fatal shooting that occurred outside a local convenience store in March of 2022.

The Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office announced that the trial of Leandre Rashad Cox concluded in a Marion County courtroom on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, when jurors delivered their guilty verdict.

Leandre Rashad Cox
Leandre Rashad Cox

“The verdict comes after diligent efforts by officers with the Ocala Police Department, who collected evidence, interviewed witnesses, and pieced together the events leading up to the fatal shooting,” stated the State Attorney’s Office in a media release.

On March 25, 2022, the Ocala Police Department responded to the 7 Days Food Store located at 2002 NW 1st Avenue in reference to shots being fired. Upon arrival, officers located the male victim, identified as 23-year-old Jacorie McCullough.

The victim was laying on the front parking lot with a single gunshot wound. He was transported to HCA Florida Ocala Hospital, where he was later pronounced deceased.

The arrest report stated that a detective spoke with employees at the store who stated that they had overheard a single gunshot. The store had video surveillance footage that showed the incident.

The detective watched the footage and observed a 14-year-old boy who approached the victim’s SUV, opened a back passenger door, and removed a backpack from the passenger area of the vehicle.

The victim confronted the teenager and pushed him away from the SUV. Moments later, the victim grabbed the backpack and placed it in the front passenger area of the vehicle.

The arrest report stated that several individuals soon stepped into view on the surveillance camera. One of those individuals attempted to break up an altercation between the victim and a man who was later identified as Cox.

On the video footage, Cox was observed reaching into the front waistline of his pants. He then approached the victim with a silver handgun in his right hand, and a physical altercation ensued. During the incident, the handgun was pointed in the victim’s direction, and the victim was observed falling to the ground, according to the report.

Cox, along with the 14-year-old boy and the unidentified third individual, retrieved the backpack from the victim’s SUV before fleeing from the area on foot. They headed northbound on NW 1st Avenue until they were out of the surveillance camera’s field of view.

During a forensic cellphone extraction, a detective found a text message thread between Cox and another individual. In this message thread, Cox stated, “Anywhere we see Palay he getting robbed.” According to Ocala police, Palay was a known nickname of the victim.

Five days after the fatal shooting, Cox was arrested and transported to Marion County Jail, where he has remained in custody.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Michael Adam Smith, Jr.

“The verdict serves as a testament to the unwavering dedication of law enforcement to pursue justice and uphold the safety of our communities,” stated Bill Gladson, Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney.

Attorney Gladson added, “Our thoughts remain with the family and loved ones of Jacorie. While nothing can undo the pain of their loss, we hope that this verdict brings some measure of closure and peace.”

A sentencing hearing for Cox has not been scheduled yet, according to court records.