Suspects in girl’s death get trial dates
Pair pleaded innocent to murder charges in shooting of 2-year-old in Little Rock
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Barry Sims set a December trial date Thursday for the 17-year-old boy accused of participating in the fatal shooting of a 2-year-old girl in Little Rock while she was riding in a car with her mother and others.
The slaying sparked an ongoing increase in violence between feuding gang factions in the state’s capital city, police have said.
Larry James Jackson of North Little Rock and co-defendant Deshaun Malik Rushing, 21, of Little Rock were in circuit court for the first time Thursday to answer charges of capital murder and six counts each of unlawful discharge of a firearm from a vehicle.
Prosecutors announced that they will be seeking life sentences for the defendants.
Jackson and Rushing were arrested in May, six months after 2-year-old Ramiya Reed was shot when someone fired into the car containing her, her mother, an adult cousin and four other children.
Killed about two months after her second birthday, the little girl was the only one hit by bullets.
Since a downtown nightclub shooting last month wounded 28 people, a federal, state and local task force has been formed to focus on gang violence. Little Rock police attributed the Power Ultra Lounge shooting to a gang dispute, but so far no one has been charged in connection to the violence.
The only arrest directly related to the club shooting has been a bodyguard for the rap musician who was performing at the club, and he has been indicted on federal gun charges.
Little Rock has had 39 homicides this year. The city has averaged 40 a year since 1985, with killings peaking at 68 in 1993. The lowest was 24 slayings in 2010.
Jackson and Rushing appeared Thursday in separate hearings about 18 minutes apart to have their trials scheduled. Their lawyers, Julie Jackson and Leslie Borgognoni, requested jury trials for the pair, who have pleaded innocent to the charges.
At the request of chief deputy prosecutor John Johnson, Jackson, who already has two felony convictions and more felony charges pending, will be the first to stand trial.
Rushing’s trial is scheduled for February.
The evidence against the pair has not been disclosed, but their arrests tied together two of Little Rock’s most notorious recent homicides: Ramiya’s killing, which occurred two days before Thanksgiving, and the unsolved slaying of 60-year-old Shirley Ann Jackson.
The mother of three children and grandmother of 12, who does not appear to be related to Larry Jackson, was killed in an April drive-by at her Park Lane home where she was caring for nine children in an unlicensed day care.
Rushing was also shot near Shirley Jackson’s home during the drive-by; police said she was an innocent victim. None of the children in the house were injured.
Rushing also faces felony contraband charges stemming from his arrest in the murder case. Rushing surrendered to authorities after learning he was a wanted man. Sheriff’s deputies found a bag of marijuana in his rectum when he was being booked into the jail, according to arrest reports.
He is also facing charges from a February arrest in which Little Rock police say he rammed a stolen car into two patrol cars while officers were trying to apprehend him. Rushing has been on probation since September for an April 2016 arrest in which police found him with cocaine and marijuana.