Trial begins for Fort Pierce man accused of Belle Glade masked murder

Coins covered in blood spilled from Lennard Cobb’s pocket when crime scene investigators found him, shot through the back of the head, outside a Belle Glade grocery store more than two years ago.

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s crime scene investigator Amy Oetinger told jurors after they viewed photos of Cobb’s body Wednesday that she also found a hat, sunglasses and a set of keys under Cobbs’ arm – all signs he was likely caught completely off guard when a masked man approached him on May 13, 2014 and shot him to death.

Prosecutors say that man is Jaycobby Dukes, a Fort Pierce resident who they say killed Cobb to settle a feud that family members say started more than five years earlier between relatives of both men.

jaycobby-dukesCobb, 24, was found shot to death in the afternoon outside the M&M Food Market at 449 Avenue A.

Surveillance footage from the market showed a masked man, wearing white Nike sneakers and carrying a black handgun, approached him and shot him in the back of the head before he could turn around.

Detectives interviewed Dukes the next day after a witness told them Dukes was seen in the area, but Dukes told them he’d been in Fort Pierce the entire previous day.

The investigation traced back to Dukes after investigators got information from more witnesses, including one who saw Dukes “sweating like hell, breathing heavy, panicked and acting abnormal,” according to Dukes’ arrest report. Investigators say another witness said Dukes confessed to him outright before explaining that Cobb had allegedly threatened Dukes while Dukes was incarcerated.

Family members this week said what actually happened between Cobb and Dukes was a 2012 fight while both men were housed at the Palm Beach County jail.

Cobb’s relatives say Cobb approached Dukes about having pulled a gun on one of Cobb’s relatives and her young child before Dukes’ arrest, and added that Cobb beat Dukes up badly in the ensuing scuffle.

Court records show both men at the time were serving sentences on separate aggravated assault cases. Dukes was released in February 2014, less than three months before Cobb was killed.

Assistant State Attorneys Andrew Slater and Lauren Godden and defense attorney Franklin Price delivered their opening statements in the case late Tuesday.

While prosecutors presented the case to jurors as a classic premeditated murder, Prince in his opening statements denied his client’s involvement and hinted at potential credibility issues with some of the state witnesses.

The trial is expected to continue into next week. Dukes, now 24, could face life in prison if convicted as charged.