Volusia County Sheriff Sgt. Don Maxwell, who was one of the deputies two runaways were accused of shooting at last summer, appeared in court Wednesday to support a prosecutor's request to set a trial date for the 15-year-old girl charged in the case.
Nicole Jackson-Maldonado faces up to life in prison on a charge of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer (firearm), burglary of a dwelling while armed and criminal mischief causing damage of $1,000 or more. Since she is a juvenile her sentence would be reviewed after 25 years, at which point she could be released. She is being held without bail at the Volusia County Branch Jail.
Jackson-Maldonado was 14 when she and a then-12-year-old boy ran away on June 1, 2021 from the Florida United Methodist Children's Home in Enterprise, broke into a house and armed themselves with weapons they found inside, according to charging affidavits.
Jackson-Maldonado and the boy then reportedly fired at the deputies who responded to the break-in. Deputies initially held their fire but eventually shot Jackson-Maldonado, reports said.
No deputies were injured, but during the shooting incident, Maxwell took cover behind a tree, which was hit by gunfire, according to reports and video.
Jackson-Maldonado' attorney, Assistant Public Defender Jessica Roberts, asked for a continuance Wednesday, noting that depositions were scheduled for later this month.
Assistant State Attorney Mark Interlicchio objected to a continuance and said a trial date should be set, adding that a victim, Maxwell, was in the courtroom.
Circuit Judge Elizabeth Blackburn asked Maxwell if he wanted to address the court.
"Your honor I think we are ready to go to court, go to trial,” Maxwell said.
"Alright, thank you," Blackburn said.
"Thank you, ma'am," Maxwell said.
However, Blackburn granted the continuance over the objections of the state.
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Blackburn set a case management conference for1:30 p.m. Aug. 4 at which time she is expected to set a trial date as well as discuss the anticipated length of the trial. She also will start planning for a jury for the case, which has received national media attention.
"I would anticipate that we should be able to schedule a realistic trial date at that point,” Blackburn said.
Jackson-Maldonado indicated she wanted to ask a question and then asked whether on Aug. 4 they would set a trial date or a date for a pre-trial.
"My hope is that we'll have a trial date at that point," Blackburn said.
The judge also said they would have a discussion on Aug. 4 about any updated plea negotiations but would not discuss that on Wednesday since Assistant Public Defender Larry Avallone, the lead attorney for Jackson-Maldonado, was not present.
Prosecutors reached a plea deal with the now 13-year-old boy earlier this year. Prosecutors kept his case in juvenile court. The boy pleaded guilty to the same charges as Jackson-Maldonado and as part of the plea deal could be released from a juvenile facility in less than three years.
Since the boy was charged as a juvenile, The News-Journal is not naming him.
Both children had previously been Baker Acted, in which a person is taken into custody for psychiatric evaluation if they are considered a threat to themselves or others.
Before running away from the children's home in Enterprise, Jackson-Maldonado was accused of setting fires to vacant lots in April 2021 in Palm Coast.
'I remember you. I forgive you.'
Maxwell was at the sentencing for the boy and told the child that he prayed for him and that he forgave him.
“I remember you. I forgive you. I challenge you to be better,” Maxwell said to the boy during the sentencing in March. “I want to see you one day be the person … the person that I know you can be. You have a big heart. You have a long life ahead of you. And I will say a prayer for you every day.”
On Wednesday, Maxwell declined to comment about the girl's case. Maxwell also declined to comment when asked if he thought it was fair to treat the two children so differently.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood referred questions texted to him on Wednesday to the State Attorney's Office but has previously stated he supports prosecutors.
Interlicchio referred questions to the State Attorney's Office spokesman.
As of press time, State Attorney R.J. Larizza had not responded to an email asking him about the disparate treatment of the boy and Jackson-Maldonado.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Volusia deputy ready for trial of girl, 15, charged in shootout