Tearful mom shares painful memories of Jacksonville toddler's murder

Testimony begins in murder trial for child killed in gang-related drive-by

By Jenese Harris - Reporter/anchor, Nick Jones - Digital producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The mother and great-grandmother of a Jacksonville toddler, who police said was murdered in a gang-related drive-by shooting, testified Tuesday; the first day of the boy's murder trial.

Aiden McClendon, 22-months-old, was sitting in a car with his mother, Tomesia Brown, and his great-grandmother, Mary Thomas, when the boy was fatally shot on the Eastside. Henry Hayes IV, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, and Kquame Richardson, who was 17 at the time, have both been charged with murder in the shooting.

Brown was dropping off Thomas at the time of the shooting. Prosecutors said the intended target was Reginald Williams, Brown's cousin.

"I didn't know he was in a gang, but I knew he was hanging with people that he shouldn't have been hanging with," Brown testified in court.

Williams walked up to the car but suddenly walked away. That's when shots rang out.

"I heard large pops," Brown said. "I paid attention to the person I could see because he was hanging out the window with a gun."

Brown identified Henry Hayes as the shooter.

"Before that, I saw the white car come on the side of my mother's car," Brown continued, referring to the white car prosecutors said Richardson and Hayes used in the deadly shooting.

UNCUT: Aiden McClendon's mother testifies

Mary Thomas, Aiden's great-grandmother, said she was in the car with Brown as they drove Aiden to the hospital where he died.

"I was holding his (Aiden's) head and told him everything would be alright," Thomas said.

Jamar Brooks, a witness, testified he saw Hayes and Richardson after the shooting and took a photo of them. Brooks said he sent the photo to Aiden's uncle. Aiden's mother then obtained the photo and confirmed Hayes was the shooter.

During cross-examination, the defense questioned the credibility of the mother and great-grandmother's memory. Two other witnesses testified they too saw a white car speed away from the area.

Prosecutors are expected to call at least two more witnesses Wednesday. The trial continues at 9 a.m.