JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The mother of one of two teens convicted of killing 22-month-old Aiden McClendon in a gang rivalry shooting said her son is not the monster prosecutors made him out to be during the trial.
Henry Hayes and Kquame Richardson have both requested new trials, and a judge said he would hear arguments from their attorneys Thursday, the same day they are set to be sentenced.
They are facing the possibility of life in prison with the chance for parole -- an outcome Richardson's mother is praying doesn't happen.
“I know he’ll end up with a number, but I don’t want life. He’s going to come back. He’s going to come home,” Tracy Richardson said after a hearing Monday morning.
Kquame Richardson and Hayes were found guilty last month of first-degree murder and other charges in the shooting death of Aiden. Prosecutors said Aiden was sitting in a car in his car seat in front of a home when Hayes and Richardson opened fire, aiming for Aiden's cousin, a rival gang member.
Aiden was wounded by several bullets, and the fatal shot hit him in the back.
Tracy Richardson said her heart goes out to Aiden's mother and that she is praying for all of the families involved. She said she believes her son got involved with the wrong crowd and that he did not orchestrate the attack the way the state made it appear.
“He’s not that type of person that they are saying -- a monster. He’s not that way. We’re going to get through this and hope for the best,” Tracy Richardson said. “We are going to be here no matter what, whatever the case is going to be. We’re just praying for the best.”
She said she talks to her son every day and that he is in “good spirits.”
“I love him and I’m waiting for you to come home,” Tracy Richardson said. “Your mom is going to always be there no matter what.”
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