Bond set at $1 million for Pine Bluff man charged in Memorial Day shooting death of young girl

Bail set at $1 million for Bryant man charged in girl’s slaying near LR zoo

Police have video of the 19-year-old Bryant man accused of fatally shooting a 7-year-old girl near the Little Rock Zoo talking about exchanging gunfire with the girl's uncle, the man driving the car when Chloe Alexander was killed Memorial Day weekend.

That disclosure came Monday at a bond hearing for capital-murder defendant Kenjata Lamar Daniels Jr., 19, before Pulaski County Circuit Judge Cathi Compton. He's been held without bond since his June 2 arrest.

Monday, Compton set his bail at $1 million with the requirement that he stay at home with his mother, Candace Carroll of Bryant, and give up all of his social-media accounts, if he's released.

The judge said she set a high bond because she was concerned about the public nature of the girl's slaying -- broad daylight near a location popular with families and intended to attract children. Daniels remained behind bars on Tuesday.

Prosecutors Jeanna Sherrill and Jayme Butts-Hall had asked the judge to withhold bail, arguing that Daniels' release would put his true target, Chloe's uncle, in danger, while his lawyer complained that $1 million was unreasonable and much more than Daniels' family could afford.

Daniels was arrested six days after Chloe was killed. He's further charged with six counts of committing a terroristic act, each count representing a bullet fired into the car that was carrying Chloe, her two young cousins, Chloe's aunt, Mayka Roberts, the cousins' mother, and Roberts' brother, 20-year-old Nijah Jamar Alexander, the driver and Chloe's uncle. They had come from Pine Bluff to visit the zoo.

Chloe was shot in the back by a rifle round that went through the car trunk. The bullet went through her spine, damaged her diaphragm, went through her vena cava vein -- which carries blood to her heart -- and lacerated her liver, before exiting her chest and piercing her right wrist.

Defense attorney Ron Davis described the evidence against Daniels as entirely circumstantial, given that no one can identify Daniels as the gunman. Daniels has denied shooting at the car, and Davis asked the judge to consider that Daniels surrendered to police once he learned he was wanted.

Davis further complained that police were exaggerating the significance of electronic evidence, a Shot Spotter activation that police say can pinpoint the exact location the killing gunshot came from and cellphone records investigators contend can show Daniels was in a car that followed the vehicle Chloe was riding in. Davis told the judge those records were not as exact as prosecutors would have her believe.

Little Rock detective Roy Williams outlined the case against Daniels at Monday's hearing. The video was a conversation recorded with a jail inmate and it involves Daniels describing a shootout in Pine Bluff with Nijah Alexander, an incident that ocurred before Chloe was killed that police have no record of, Williams testified. Daniels says that Alexander was grazed by a bullet in the incident.

Williams said police were first notified of trouble near the zoo when Shot Spotter alerted to 11 rounds being fired nearby at the Fair Park Boulevard and Interstate 630 interchange at 11:16 a.m. Police would later find nine rifle shell casings there.

Three minutes after the alert, someone at the zoo called 911 to report hearing gunshots in the area. At 11:27 a.m., Arkansas Children's Hospital called police to report Chloe and her family were at the facility, about 3 miles from the zoo.

At the hospital, Chloe's uncle told police the gunshots came from a light-colored Chevrolet Malibu behind the family at the intersection, the detective said. The man further said he'd noticed the car following them since he got off Interstate 30 onto 630 on their way to the zoo. He said he recognized the car from an Instagram profile that he showed to investigators.

Of significance on that profile was the car, a 2011 tan Chevrolet Malibu, from which police were able to glean a license plate number, a photograph showing Daniels with a rifle, and a connection between the profile owner and another man familiar to police, murder suspect Keaton Jamal McGee of Bryant, the detective said. On McGee's 18th birthday the profile owner was wishing him a happy birthday.

McGee faces a capital murder charge over accusations he killed a man at a traveling fair in April 2021 by Bass Pro Shops and the Outlets of Little Rock mall. He's also been charged in an earlier shooting in which a girl was wounded, although another man is accused of shooting the girl.

That discovery of the link to McGee led police to head to McGee's home where they found Daniels' car about 5:15 p.m. A check of the city's license-plate detection system allowed investigators to track the car's movements from the scene and discover the vehicle had stopped at the Phillips 66 convenience store on Stagecoach Drive, the detective said.

Surveillance video from the store shows Daniels, with a rifle tucked into his pants, in the store while his car appears unoccupied, Williams said. The time was 11:26 a.m., 10 minutes after the shooting.

Meanwhile, police had the McGee home under surveillance when the Malibu left. As detectives watched, three men from the home got into the car with Daniels driving. When the car reached the Little Rock city limits, marked patrol cars with lights activated tried to pull the vehicle over but the Malibu fled, Williams told the judge.

He said the pursuit ended quickly because the Malibu, after driving into oncoming traffic to get away, struck several other cars. In the wrecked car, police arrested Daniels and McGee, but the third man got away. McGee identified him for police as his older brother, 19-year-old Courtney Tyronne McGee.

The detective said found in the car were two handguns, one of which was stolen, a rifle bullet matching the brand of the casings found at the zoo shooting scene, and a "Glock switch," an illegal device used to transform some pistols from semi-automatic to full automatic, the detective said. That discovery resulted in federal criminal charges against Courtney McGee. Daniels' mother testified the Malibu was hers.

During questioning by detectives about his movements that day, Daniels said McGee was the shooter, the detective testified. Daniels said that he and McGee were driving from Pine Bluff to Little Rock on Interstate 30 when McGee directed him to follow another car, stating he knew the driver. Daniels described that while they were stopped behind that car at the Fair Park exit, McGee got out with a rifle and shot up the vehicle, the detective said.

McGee then got back in the car and he drove them away, Daniels told police, the detective testified.

Daniels was released without charges that day and was not arrested until June when police had more evidence. The detective said police ruled McGee out as the gunman because phone records show his phone was at home when Chloe was killed. But phone records from Daniels show him taking the same route as Chloe's family from Pine Bluff to the zoo, the detective said.

Since his arrest, Faulkner County prosecutors have charged Daniels with possession of prescription drugs and theft by receiving involving a stolen pistol, court records show.

According to an arrest affidavit, Conway police investigating a Dec. 15, 2020, complaint about trespassers on Bobali Gardens street stopped a beige Malibu driven by Daniels, then 17, about 2:09 a.m.

Daniels' passenger Jaheem Ramsey, now 20, was arrested on an outstanding felony drug warrant, and Daniels gave police permission to search the car, which turned up a backpack in the truck containing two pistols, Daniels' identification and half of an etizolam pill. Daniels denied knowing about the guns. Police later determined one had been stolen in Pine Bluff in 2015.

Prosecutors said Daniels has juvenile convictions in Jefferson County for residential burglary and theft, which involve a stolen gun.

Alexander, the man authorities say Daniels was really gunning for, is currently a fugitive with his arrest ordered on Monday in Jefferson County for missing a Nov. 3 court hearing on charges of simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms and marijuana trafficking, court records show.

According to an arrest affidavit, Pine Bluff authorities investigating a shooting in March had Alexander's Avalon Avenue home under surveillance because a green Chevrolet Malibu parked there was shown in a video related to the shooting.

Following a traffic stop of the car, Alexander was found to be the driver, with police locating an AR pistol in the drivers' seat, and a handgun in the back seat, along with two jars of marijuana, weighing together 61 grams, about 2.2. ounces.

During a more extensive search of the car, police found ammunition, more marijuana, two pistols and a "Draco" rifle, according to the affidavit. Two passengers in the car, Cameron Mays and Michael Maxwell, were released without charges.