Trial begins in 2020 shooting death of 7-year-old Kennedy Maxie

Suspect faces felony murder and gun charges

A robbery outside Phipps Plaza left a man enraged, prosecutors say, and the gunfire that resulted led to the shooting death of a child who had been out Christmas shopping with her family.

Kennedy Maxie, struck Dec. 21, 2020, while riding in the back seat of her aunt’s vehicle, died the day after Christmas. She was 7.

The trial of Daquan Reed, who faces charges of felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, criminal damage to property, possession of a firearm during a crime and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, started Friday.

“In a rage over being robbed of his cellphone and money, the defendant, Daquan Reed, a convicted felon, picked up his Glock 9 mm pistol and fired it from the rear passenger seat of a black Acura,” prosecutor Pat Dutcher said in his opening statement.

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Prosecutors brought to the stand multiple witnesses who detailed the sequence of events; Reed was robbed outside the Saks Fifth Avenue store at Phipps prior the shooting. Jurors also heard from Kennedy’s mother, Mariah Maxie, and aunt Jade Maxie.

“I was like fussing with Kennedy because she didn’t even want to go shopping,” Mariah Maxie said. “She wanted to go to her dad’s house.”

Kennedy was in the car with her aunt and mother, stopped at a red light, when shots rang out. Mariah Maxie soon noticed her daughter was not responding.

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Jade Maxie drove straight to the hospital, where Kennedy Maxie died five days later.

“I will never forget (that day),” Jade Maxie said. The three had been out shopping on the first day of Kennedy’s winter break from school. Kennedy lived in Cobb County and attended Sedalia Park Elementary School.

Credit: Atlanta Police Department

Credit: Atlanta Police Department

After the shooting, Dutcher said, Reed got rid of the gun and told people not to talk to police before leaving the area. He was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service in Virginia and extradited back to Georgia a month later.

Reed’s attorney Nicole Fegan argued in her opening statement that there was no physical evidence that will prove any guilt against her client. She described Kennedy’s death as “terrible” but stated her client is innocent.

“I’m confident that you’ll come back with a verdict that speaks the truth on behalf of Daquan Reed and that is that he is innocent,” she said. “He is not guilty for each and every count charged.”

This was not the first shooting near a mall in which authorities believe Reed was involved. In October 2019, Reed and another man were arrested by U.S. marshals in Atlanta in connection with a shooting at MacArthur Center Mall in Virginia that left a man and a bystander injured. Reed pleaded guilty to a count of accessory after the fact and was sentenced to a year in prison with nine months suspended, meaning he only spent three months behind bars from the day after his sentenced was announced, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.

Trial is set to continue in Fulton County Superior Court on Monday morning. Reed is still being held at the Fulton County Jail after bond was denied last year.

The case proved to be a pivotal moment in Atlanta, coming toward the end of a historically deadly year. Authorities investigated 157 cases in 2020, at the time the most since 1996. That number was topped last year, when authorities investigated 160 homicides. This year, Atlanta reached 100 homicide cases on Aug. 10, compared with reaching that number on Aug. 21 last year.

Kennedy’s death, a little more than five months after 8-year-old Secoriea Turnea was shot and killed when shooters fired into her mother’s car, prompted a blistering statement from City Councilman Howard Shook at the time.

“It will take a lot to turn this around. But here, in descending order, are the three things we need to begin: 1). Leadership; 2). Some leadership; 3). Any leadership,” Shook said then.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a statement at the time, “Our hearts are broken by the senseless murder of Kennedy. While the Atlanta Police Department has significant leads in the apprehension of those responsible, it does not erase the pain felt when a beautiful, vibrant and loving child is tragically taken from her family.”

Five months later, Bottoms announced she would not seek reelection, and the issue of crime dominated the mayor’s race that followed. Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens has made safety a top priority and appeared before the City Council’s recent public safety committee meeting to deliver a forceful message to people with illegal firearms: “If you pull a gun in this town, you are going to jail.”