Florida men Kquame Richardson and Henry Hayes are facing trial in Jacksonville, charged with murdering a 22-month old child. Prosecutors says baby Aiden McClendon was a casualty of gang-related violence, with Richardson and Hayes in one gang, and McClendon’s cousin in a rival group.
Richardson and Hayes, both now 19, are accused of carrying out a drive-by shooting on January 29, 2016, and have been linked to the gang PCE (Problem Child Entertainment). Police believe that McClendon’s cousin may have been the intended target, and a member of rival gang Out East.
Prosecutors plan on calling two gang members as witnesses. Before the trial began, the judge agreed to close the courtroom for their testimony, to protect their identities. Both witnesses have already been threatened over their testimony, and one of them was stabbed in prison. The prosecution also stated that the mother of a witness was attacked in a shooting at her home. Media coverage of the trial will still be permitted during their testimony, but their faces will not be permitted to be shown on camera.
Two separate juries will be seated for the trial, one for each defendant. Both Richardson and Hayes are charged with murder, attempted murder, discharging a firearm from a vehicle, and shooting or throwing deadly missiles. Hayes is also charged with possession of a firearm by a juvenile delinquent found to have committed a felony act. They both face up to life in prison if they are convicted.