The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office have announced three indictments in the murder of 20-year-old Jarius Cook, whose body was found shot in a burning car March 19 in the 900 block of South Delaware Avenue in the Spring Hill area of southwest DeLand.
The three defendants are charged with first-degree murder and robbery with a firearm. Facing charges are 23-year-old Zachariah Sanders, 18-year-old Fredyonna Grimes and 17-year-old Cameron Lane. According to family members of Jarius Cook, all three were friends with Jarius Cook.
“He trusted them,” Vickie Cook Heath, Jarius’ aunt, said at a press conference today, Oct. 30. “What went wrong, we don’t know.”
Heath said the Cook family is praying for the defendants.
“It’s sad, because they are young,” Heath said. “My heart goes out to them… my heart goes out to their parents.”
“We’re praying for those that are in custody — but we still want a conviction,” Heath added.
State Attorney R.J. Larizza pointed out that two of the defendants, Grimes and Lane, were already in custody on charges of attempted first-degree murder in a separate case stemming from a shooting in April.
Sanders was taken into custody in May, after detectives charged him with tampering with evidence and giving a false report regarding Cook’s murder. He was also charged with resisting arrest and violation of probation.
“It’s a kind of moral resignation,” Larizza said of the violent crimes, “That they just don’t believe … that there’s any other avenue for them but to pursue violence, with guns, and to prey upon each other.”
“I can’t say how troubling that is. We’ve just got to find a way to do something,” Larizza added.
The Cook case is still active, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said, and so the law-enforcement officials were tight-lipped about details of the case. Officials believe there were other people involved in what Chitwood described as a “conspiracy.”
“We’re still seeking the people who burned the vehicle,” Chitwood said. “There’s not a lot of information coming in to give this family closure.”
“I wouldn’t wish this on anybody,” Jarius’ mother, Shania Clarke, said. “We’re asking for help — think about yourself and your kids.”
At the podium next to Clarke as she pleaded for the community to come forward with more information was Jarius’ son, who just turned 4. His birthday party is tomorrow, Jarius’ aunt said.
“He still asks for his daddy constantly,” Heath said. “They had a bond.”