DELAND, FL – After a 7-month Volusia Sheriff’s Office investigation in close coordination with the State Attorney’s Office, a grand jury has indicted three suspects in the robbery and murder of Jarius Cook in the Spring Hill neighborhood of DeLand.
Sheriff Mike Chitwood and State Attorney R.J. Larizza announced the indictments in a news conference Friday morning alongside the family of the 21-year-old who was shot multiple times, then discovered in the driver’s seat of a burning car in the early-morning hours of March 19, 2020.
All three defendants, Zachariah U. Sanders, 23, Fredryonna C. Grimes, 18, and Cameron L. Lane, 17, were each charged with first-degree murder and robbery with a firearm.
“In all my years of policing, I just can’t understand the indifference to human life,” Sheriff Chitwood told reporters of what he called “absolutely a senseless, horrific murder of a young man who had so much of his life” ahead of him. “It just defies logic that a human being would do this to another human being over money, and not a lot of money at all.”
“We need to find a way to stop this gun violence, we need to find a way to help these communities grapple with what they deal with every day,” State Attorney Larizza said. “Once we get involved, somebody’s dead or seriously injured, and in many respects it’s just too late. So I hope that we can continue to do our job of protecting you, and also find ways to help protect our communities from future violence.”
Vickie Cook Heath, Jarius’ aunt, said the sheriff’s detective assigned to the case, Det. Shon McGuire, “told me to trust him, and I did exactly that.”
“We prayed, we cried, and we prayed some more, and we got just what we asked for from the Lord: An indictment,” Ms. Heath said. “So now all we’re waiting for is a conviction, and we know God will do that for us as well.”
Using digital forensics and other evidence gathered during the investigation, detectives determined all three defendants were involved in the robbery and murder. At this point, limited details of the investigation are being released to protect the integrity of the cases as they enter the prosecution phase.
News Conference 10/30/20: Indictments In Homicide Of Jarius Cook
Each of the defendants have been in custody without bond on other charges for several months. Grimes was arrested April 20, and Lane was arrested May 8, on charges of attempted first-degree murder in a separate shooting case in DeLand, investigated by the DeLand Police Department.
Sanders was taken into custody May 20 after sheriff’s detectives charged him with tampering with evidence and providing a false report to law enforcement regarding Cook’s murder. Sanders was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence after he tried to escape from arresting deputies. He was also charged with violating his probation on prior armed robbery charges.
Body Camera Video Of The May 20, 2020, Arrest Of Zachariah Sanders