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Attorney in Little Rock child slaying case reports conflict of interest

Judge delays case after defense says 1 of wounded is his client in another case by John Lynch | September 22, 2022 at 7:15 a.m.

Capital murder proceedings against an 18-year-old Bryant man accused of killing a 7-year-old girl near the Little Rock Zoo around Memorial Day are on hold due to a potential conflict of interest with his lawyer.

Kenjata Lamare Daniels Jr. is accused of shooting into a car carrying Chloe Alexander and four others, two adults and two children, all from Pine Bluff, in May, killing Chloe about five months after her 7th birthday.

Daniels is charged with capital murder, fleeing and nine counts of committing a terroristic act, one for each bullet that struck the car. Daniels surrendered four days later after learning Little Rock police were looking for him. He's been jailed ever since.

Daniels' attorney Ron Davis told Pulaski County Circuit Judge Cathi Compton on Monday that he just realized he's also representing one of the shooting survivors, Nijah Alexander, the 20-year-old driver, on marijuana and firearm charges in Jefferson County that predate the slaying.

Davis told the judge there doesn't appear to be a significant conflict of interest for him in representing both men because the criminal accusations against them appear to be unrelated. Davis said he'd been in a similar situation before in federal court and that he had been approved by the presiding judge to continue representing both clients in that case.

Further, Davis presented Daniels and Daniels' mother, Candace Carroll of Bryant, both of whom testified that Davis had explained to them what was going on and that they were willing to waive any potential conflict. Davis said he still needed to get Alexander to sign off on the arrangement.

Senior deputy prosecutor Jeanna Sherrill told the judge that she would like some time to research the issue, stating that she did not want to immediately agree to anything now that could jeopardize a later condition. The judge gave the sides a week to report back so she could determine how to proceed, advising Davis to have minimal contact with Daniels until the question of his legal representation can be resolved.

According to police, the fatal shooting occurred around 743 Fair Park Blvd., shortly before noon. The group of five was coming from Pine Bluff to visit the zoo, with Chloe and the other two children riding in the back of the car.

Alexander told investigators that as they approached Interstate 630 from Interstate 30, he saw a light-colored Chevrolet Malibu following them, according to an arrest affidavit.

Alexander said that when he turned north onto Fair Park toward the zoo, the Malibu likewise followed. On Fair Park, someone in the Malibu started shooting and continued firing even as Alexander sped up to avoid the gunshots, the affidavit states.

The other adult in the vehicle, Makya Roberts, the front seat passenger, told police she had also noticed the way the Malibu had followed them on Interstate 630, and described how she had turned back to look at the children once the gunfire started and discovered Chloe had been shot. They immediately headed to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, where Chloe died.

The police probe determined the pursuing car to be a 2011 Chevrolet Malibu, with detectives tracking the suspect vehicle down within about eight hours to a Bryant home on Amalie Drive, the affidavit states.

Investigators saw three men leave the home and get into the Malibu, and followed the vehicle as it headed back to Little Rock.

City police reported they attempted to stop the car but the vehicle sped away, resulting in a brief pursuit that ended with the Malibu crashing into other vehicles.

A passenger was seen running into the woods from the crashed Malibu, while inside the car, police found two pistols, a "switch" mechanism that can convert a semi-automatic pistol to fully automatic, bullets and other gun accessories, according to police reports.

Daniels was the driver while the passenger was Keaton Jamal McGee, 18, of Bryant. McGee, in turn, told police the man seen running from the wrecked car was his older brother. McGee was known to police for having been implicated in two Little Rock shootings, one of them the April 2021 murder of a man at a traveling carnival near the Little Rock Bass Pro store.

In a subsequent interview with detectives, Daniels described how he had been driving the Malibu behind the car carrying Chloe Alexander and the others, providing a "detailed" description of that other car's occupants and where they were sitting in the car, the affidavit states.

Daniels first told police he had been alone in the Malibu following the car, then said that McGee's older brother had been with him and that it had been that man, 20-year-old Cortney Tyronne McGee Jr., who shot a rifle at the car carrying the little girl.

Daniels said that after the shooting, he drove McGee back to the Bryant residence, stopping at a Phillips 66 gas station at 8900 Stagecoach Road, before returning to the Bryant house, the affidavit states.

Two days after the girl's slaying, police were able to view security video from the gas station, reporting that the recording -- taken just minutes after the girl was killed -- shows that Daniels appeared to be alone in the Malibu and that he can be seen getting out of the car and tucking a rifle into the front of his pants.

Neither of the McGee brothers have been charged in the girl's slaying.


Print Headline: Attorney in zoo slaying reports conflict

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