22-month-old Aiden Michael McClendon

Two Florida Gang Member’s Convictions Upheld In Shooting Death Of Toddler

A state appeals court Wednesday upheld the murder convictions of two gang members in the shooting death of a 22-month-old toddler in 2016 in Jacksonville.

In separate opinions, a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal rejected arguments by attorneys for Henry Lee Hayes and Kquame Riquan Richardson. The opinions said Hayes and Richardson were members of a gang that was in an “all-out street war” with another gang after a fight at a concert in November 2015.

“The conflict, which spanned several months, was marked by shootouts, drive-by shootings, retaliatory violence, and at least one gang member’s death,” said the opinions, written by Judge Rachel Nordby and joined by Chief Judge Lori Rowe and Judge Thomas Winokur. “The escalating tension was documented by the gang members themselves — in rap songs, in videos, in photographs and in many social media posts.”

22-month-old Aiden Michael McClendon
22-month-old Aiden Michael McClendon Killed In Drive-By Shooting

In January 2016, the toddler, identified in Jacksonville media reports as Aiden McClendon, was in the backseat of a car when it was hit by gunfire.

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Gang members nearby were the intended target. Hayes and Richardson, who were juveniles, were convicted of first-degree murder and other charges in the shooting and sentenced to life in prison.

The appeals raised a series of issues, including Richardson’s attorneys challenging the admission during his trial of rap videos and photographs posted on Facebook. Richardson, now 23, is an inmate at Taylor Correctional Institution, while Hayes, 23, is an inmate at Okeechobee Correctional Institution, according to the state Department of Corrections website.

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