Jury convicts in 13-year-old's shooting death


A Hennepin County jury convicted Kemen Lavatos Taylor, II on nine counts, including first-degree murder, in the shooting death of Rayjon Gomez and the attempted murder of two teenaged boys who were with Gomez, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday.

Taylor, 27, was immediately sentenced to life in prison without parole.  The jury took about five hours to reach its verdict.

Taylor was 25 at the time of the shooting and he convinced Donquarius Copeland, who was 16 and Derrick Catchings, who was 15, to shoot at Gomez and his friends in a north Minneapolis alley on Aug. 24, 2011. His two accomplices pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of the 13-year-old Gomez and testified against Taylor.

“These types of crimes shock the conscience of the whole community,” Freeman said. “Boys shooting boys, egged on by an adult, is sickening. Our prosecutors worked hard, taking the good evidence developed by Minneapolis Police and I’m pleased to say that Mr. Taylor will not be causing anymore death on our streets.”

According to the testimony in the case, Taylor wanted revenge for the wounding of his younger brother by a rival gang member. Taylor drove a van and picked up Copeland and Catchings and when they spotted three teenagers riding bikes in the alley near 17th and Russell Avenues North, Taylor said they should go out and shoot them.

Gomez was riding on the back of one bike and both he and the 12-year-old boy pedaling that bike were hit by gunshots. The second youth survived and their friend on the second bike was not struck by the gunfire.  Catchings, at his plea hearing, admitted Gomez was not the person they were trying to find.