WENTWORTH, N.C. (WGHP) — A man who was accused of shooting and killing two motorcyclists and leading authorities on a multi-state manhunt has pleaded guilty.

Martin Calvin Cox Jr.
Martin Calvin Cox Jr.

Martin Calvin Cox Jr., 43, entered a guilty plea in Rockingham County Superior Court on March 9, 2023. He pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder in the deaths of Haneefa Fitzgerald and Kwandre Carey and the shooting of Isaac Fitzgerald.

On May 24, 2021, the Fitzgeralds and Carey made a stop at Love’s Travel Stop in Reidsville on their way back to Virginia on a motorcycle trip. When they finished eating at the travel stop, they got on their motorcycles and left. Cox followed them and shot at them while they were heading northbound on US 29.

Cox fled to Kentucky but was caught the next day in Bullitt County, Kentucky by Kentucky State Police and extradited back to Rockingham County with the assistance of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation flight team.

Sheriff Sam Page said at the time that he believed the shooting was targeted. Carey’s mother said there didn’t seem to have been any kind of interaction between Carey, the Fitzgeralds and Cox leading up to the shooting.

'He did not deserve this': Mother of man gunned down while riding motorcycle in Rockingham County speaks out
Kwandre Carey

“I have heard a lot of things about altercations. They’ve looked at the tapes there was no interaction, none,” Kwandre’s mother Aretha Carey, said when FOX8 spoke to her in 2021.

“Martin Cox viciously murdered two wonderful people that he did not know and had not encountered before this tragic day just because he did not like the patches they were wearing on their vests. Haneefa, like Isaac, was recently retired from the United States Marine Corps and was only 42 years old. Kwandre was a 24-year-old truck driver who loved traveling the United States on his motorcycle,” District Attorney Jason Ramey said in a press release shared on Tuesday. “I pray this sentence will bring the many, many people who loved them dearly some peace,” he concluded, after thanking the numerous law enforcement agents that assisted in the case.

“He did not deserve this. No one deserves to be gunned down,” Aretha said. “This whole situation just baffles me. For him to leave the earth in this way, it’s hard that he’s gone, but to be that way is even worse.”

In August 2021, a juvenile was charged with two counts of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder and one count of accessory after the fact to attempted first-degree murder and taken into custody by the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice in connection to the deaths of Fitzgerald and Carey.

Cox had prior run-ins with the law before the 2021 homicides. Cox’s first criminal case was in 1999 when he was charged with possession of drugs with intent to sell in Guilford County.

In 2011, he was arrested in Guilford County on charges of possession of a controlled substance, trafficking and maintaining a place for a controlled substance.

In 2013, he was arrested in Guilford County on charges of possession with intent to sell and selling a schedule IV controlled substance.

Also in 2013, he also faced a misdemeanor charge of wanton injury to personal property in Forsyth County.

Cox was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“If it was the death penalty, one day, I would be sitting on the front row, and I would be able to have the feel of an eye for an eye,” Aretha said. “There’s still a lot of healing to do, but it…will never be over. He was my only child.”