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Suspect charged with shooting and setting ablaze his robbery partner

Darion Dontae McGee
Darion Dontae McGee

A Leesburg man sought out of Lake County for second degree murder was arrested Sunday evening at the Lake County Jail.

Darion Dontae McGee, 30, was charged with the murder of 38-year-old Mustafa Connelly at the time of his arrest by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Additional charges of arson and three counts of video voyeurism were documented later.

On the evening of Dec. 17, 2021, law enforcement received a call from a woman stating that someone had been shot and set on fire in a lot locally known as “the Car Wash,” located at 1645 Veech Road. She explained that she heard three to five gunshots in the area, then later received a call from her brother confirming such. This prompted her to call law enforcement, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Upon arrival at the scene, deputies observed Connelly laying facedown, lifeless and ablaze, on the passenger side of an orange 2015 Hyundai passenger car. The fire was extinguished, and it was discovered later that the vehicle was registered to Connelly’s brother, the affidavit said.

Connelly was badly burned and had several gunshot wounds in his back, the affidavit said. Multiple 9mm shell casings were found near the rear passenger side of the vehicle, indicating that Connelly was ambushed, intentionally shot and killed. Two .45 caliber shell casings were discovered under Connelly’s body. The killer, later identified as McGee, then used an accelerant to light the body on fire and conceal evidence and his identification before fleeing the scene.

Mustafa Connelly was captured in this surveillance image
Mustafa Connelly was captured in this surveillance image.

The next day, an autopsy was performed on Connelly’s body. Two 9mm bullets were removed from his pulmonary cavity, or lung cavity. This confirmed his cause of death to be a homicide by gunshot wounds of the torso, the affidavit said.

A search warrant was then executed for the Hyundai, the affidavit said. A left palm latent print was lifted from the passenger front quarter panel that yielded a match of McGee. The location of this print was in extremely close proximity to Connelly’s body at the scene, indicating McGee was likely stepping over or leaning over Connelly.

In an interview with Connelly’s girlfriend, law enforcement learned that Connelly had been meeting with a person known as “Trey Way” on Dec. 16 and 17 to set up a robbery. This was McGee’s nickname used on his Facebook, and Connelly’s girlfriend confirmed that “Trey Way” and McGee are one and the same, the affidavit said.

It was also learned that on December 15, 2021, McGee and Connelly began talking via SMS. McGee requested a “face to face” meeting with him in reference to “having some work

that interests him.” Connelly was known in the area as a “Jack Boy” per individuals familiar with him. This term is used to describe persons known to rob people of valuables, the affidavit said.

On December 16, Connelly and McGee exchanged messages where they spoke about meeting up with associates of McGee for an unstated purpose. The chosen location picked by McGee was known as “The Bottoms,” a nickname for the area of Veech Road near the incident location. McGee stated he was trying to “tie up so lose strings,” the affidavit said.

Several messages and calls between Connelly, McGee and his associates were made between 7:45 and 11:31 p.m. that night. In these messages, McGee tells an associate that he “had to hold off cus it aint feel right for sum reason,” followed by “so tomm.” Both McGee and the associate used the term “Red” in those messages, the affidavit said.

It was known to law enforcement that McGee and his associate were documented Nine Trey Blood Gang members and was the reason for the aliases “Trey Way” and “Red.” Furthermore, multiple photos and documents related to McGee established a Blood Gang hierarchy discovered within data owned by McGee, the affidavit said.

McGee’s associate was listed as a person holding significant rank of a subgroup within the gang that McGee was part of. As such, the messages between the two were to inform him of the happenings of the evening. Additionally, “Red” is a common Blood Gang greeting rooted in their saying of “remember every dog,” the affidavit said.

On the day of Connelly’s murder, there were no further SMS or iMessage conversations between McGee, only eight phone calls throughout the day leading up to the 911 call, the affidavit said.

Based on the context of the messages, law enforcement concluded that McGee lured Connelly to the incident location on December 16 and then again on the 17 to conduct a robbery. During that robbery, Connelly was shot at least twice in the back resulting in his death, the affidavit said.

Connelly’s phone was missing from the scene, likely taken by McGee, and his body was covered with accelerant and ignited to conceal the evidence, the affidavit said. However, McGee was arrested in January 2022 with a cellphone associated with the phone number in the messages, placing him at the scene of the homicide.

McGee had established a modus operandi, or particular method, of setting fire to the bodies of his victims using accelerants to conceal his involvement in said crimes, the affidavit said. He is a suspect in an ongoing arson case, where he was observed by a witness lighting the body of a man on fire causing burns to his own legs, and then fleeing the scene in March 2021.

In addition, McGee was released from Florida Department of Corrections in January 2020 for first degree murder/premeditated or attempt, felon in possession of concealed weapon/ammo, carrying a concealed firearm and multiple counts of sale of cocaine, the affidavit said.

McGee was being held without bond at the Lake County Jail.

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