Alleged Ringleader of Marijuana Ring Pleads Guilty to Role in Chili Avenue Triple Homicide

Alleged Ringleader of Marijuana Ring Pleads Guilty to Role in Chili Avenue Triple Homicide

Overview

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A last minute plea offer was accepted Monday, on the eve of jury selection in the trial of Andre McFarlane, one of three men accused in a Feb. 2014 triple homicide on Chili Avenue.

McFarlane, 36, pleaded guilty to three counts of second degree murder in the execution-style killings of Jermeliah Simmons, 21; her cousin, Jacqueline Simmons, 24; and a friend, Michael Nelson, 24. The bodies of the victims, who were all shot in the head, were found Feb. 24, 2014.

McFarlane agreed to testify against his co-defendants, Steve Fulcott and Marlando Allen. Allen, however, was found mentally incompetent to stand trial.

McFarlane was the alleged boss or ringleader of a major marijuana distribution business and originally faced three counts of first degree murder. In exchange for the plea, McFarlane will be sentenced March 4 to 15 years to life in prison.

McFarlane was the head of the distribution business and the killings were in retaliation for one of the victims allegedly stealing marijuana. It’s believed Jermiliah Simmons is the one who stole the marijuana.

McFarlane wasn’t present for the killings, but admitted to giving his 9mm handgun to Fulcott and Allen to do the job for him.

Monday’s court appearance was originally scheduled as a hearing to determine if evidence from prior uncharged crimes could be used during trial.

“When you get this close to trying a case that you know is going to be four to six weeks long, you’re ready to go,” said prosecutor Kelly Wolford, “but I think we all agree and speaking with law enforcement who worked very, very hard on this case and helped us put it together that it was the right thing, justice for our community to take the plea and secure his cooperation going forward.”

Jury selection in Fulcott’s trial was expected to begin Tuesday morning, but that’s been adjourned until Friday, as Fulcott was offered a deal to plead guilty to three counts of first degree murder in exchange for a sentence of 25 years to life. Fulcott faces life without parole if found guilty at trial.

“I really can’t comment on what his considerations are at this point, but I know that they asked for additional time before they started the trial,” Fulcott said.

Nelson’s family declined comment after the court proceeding.  Attorneys for McFarlane and Fulcott were not available.

Allen’s competency will be re-evaluated annually to determine if he will eventually be brought to trial.