2 found guilty of killing toddler Aiden McClendon

Henry Hayes, Kquame Richardson convicted in 2016 murder

By Ashley Spicer - Reporter, anchor, Nick Jones - Digital producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Two young men were convicted Tuesday afternoon of first-degree murder and other charges in the January 2016 shooting death of 22-month-old Aiden McClendon.

Kquame Richardson and Henry Hayes IV were tried simultaneously, but the cases heard by separate juries. 

The prosecution and defense rested Monday afternoon after the prosecution presented a ballistics report and showed the gun it claims was used to kill Aiden.

The defense rested after calling only one witness. Neither Hayes nor Richardson testified.

Deliberating more than three hours, the Hayes jury reached a verdict Monday evening, but it was sealed until the jury hearing the Richardson case made its decision. Closing arguments in the second case ended Tuesday afternoon and the jury began deliberations about 4 p.m. That verdict was reached in less than one hour.

Because both defendants were minors at the time of the crime, both face a sentence of life in prison without parole. They will be formally sentenced on Aug. 6.

After the verdicts were read, Richardson's mother cried and Aiden's mother and other family members hugged in court.

RECAP: Aiden McClendon murder trial

Through her tears, Richardson’s mom said she didn’t raise a son like that.

Aiden's mother said she is pleased with the verdicts and thankful it's over, saying it’s been a long two years since loosing her son.

The state spent more than an hour Tuesday morning reviewing evidence against Richardson. The defense argued that a DNA test placing Richardson in the car was not conclusive and the state can't prove a gun found in the car was the one that killed Aiden.

Police said since the beginning that Aiden was an innocent victim in a gang rivalry that spilled over in a spray of gunfire on the city's Eastside. 

Aiden was hit by several shots as he sat in a car with his mother and great-grandmother. He was still in his car seat, according to family members.

Aiden was rushed to a hospital in critical condition and later died. He was the only person wounded in the shooting.

Police have said the teens who opened fire that night from a passing car were targeting Aiden's 19-year-old cousin, who was a rival gang member. The cousin was standing in front of a nearby house, which was left riddled with bullets.

Just over a week after Aiden was gunned down, police pulled over Hayes, 16, while he was driving his father's car. They found a 9 mm gun in the car and took it as evidence.

Court documents show the Florida Department of Law Enforcement tested the gun found in the suspect's car and determined it was the weapon that killed Aiden.

A week before his 17th birthday, Hayes was charged with murder, attempted murder and other gun charges in the drive-by shooting.

Richardson, who was 17 at the time of the drive-by, was also charged with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder in the shooting.

Police said both Hayes and Richardson are members of the Problem Child Entertainment, or PCE, gang.

Closing arguments by Assistant State Attorney London Kite and defense attorney Regina Wright

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