Family of slain Jacksonville toddler hopes to soon have justice

22-month-old Aiden McClendon gunned down in drug-related drive-by, police say

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of a toddler, who lost his life in what Jacksonville police said was a gang-related drive-by shooting, hopes to soon have closure in the death of their loved one.

Henry Hayes and Kquame Richardson are charged with murder and face life in prison for the death of 22-month-old Aiden McClendon. They went before a judge Tuesday, and their trial is scheduled to begin at the end of June.

In January 2016, Aiden was shot three times in a car while sitting with his mother and grandmother. The toddler's 19-year-old cousin, who was standing in front of a nearby house, was the intended target, Jacksonville police said.

As the murder trial approaches, the toddler's grandmother told News4Jax the family is hoping it gets justice.

"We are just looking forward to it being over, living through this trial and getting our convictions," said Rhonda McDowell, Aiden's grandmother. "We are just taking it one day at a time with the love and support of the community."

Hayes and Richardson will be tried together but each will have his own jury. Before the trial begins, Hayes' defense attorney wants a special jury questionnaire.

DOCUMENT | Copy of special jury questionnaire

Hayes' defense wants to make sure a potential juror is not biased regarding the nature of the case and has not seen media reports.

The defense also does not want a rap music video entered as evidence. Police said the video sparked the conflict that led to the deadly shooting.

Hayes was 16 years old at the time of the shooting; Richardson was 17. If found guilty, they could receive life in prison with the possibility of parole.

The trial begins June 25.

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