The third and final defendant in the 2011 murder case of 13-year-old Ray’Jon Gomez was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole.
It took a Hennepin County District Court jury about five hours to find Kemen Taylor II guilty on nine criminal counts, including first-degree murder. He also was charged with attempted murder for the shootings of two other teenagers who were with Gomez, one of whom was struck and wounded.
Taylor, 27, persuaded Donquarius Copeland, who was 16 at the time, and Derrick Catchings, who was 15, to shoot at Gomez and his friends in a north Minneapolis alley on Aug. 24, 2011.
According to the testimony, Taylor wanted revenge for the wounding of his younger brother by a rival gang member.
Taylor was driving a van, with Copeland and Catchings riding along, when they spotted three teenagers riding bikes in the alley near 17th and Russell Avenues N. Taylor said they should go out and shoot them.
Gomez was riding on the back of one bike being pedaled by a 12-year-old boy.
Both boys were hit; the second youth survived. Their friend on the second bike was not struck by the gunfire.
Catchings, at his plea hearing, admitted that Ray’Jon was not the person they were trying to find.
Taylor’s accomplices pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and testified against Taylor.
“These types of crimes shock the conscience of the whole community,” Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman said. “Boys shooting boys, egged on by an adult, is sickening.”
David Chanen • 612-673-4465