Trial for Syracuse man accused of fatally shooting toddler

Families of Evans and Walker

Opening statements begin Tuesday morning in the trial of an alleged gang member accused of shooting and killing a Syracuse toddler.

Jury selection was completed Monday afternoon in the trial of 23-year-old Saquan Evans. Judge John Brunetti told the jury of 8 women and 4 men that they could get the case early next week.

Evans of Syracuse is charged with second degree murder in the death of 20-month-old Rashaad Walker, Jr. Police say Walker was strapped in his car seat when he got caught in the crossfire of a gang-related shooting in November 2010.

Police say Evans is a member of the Bricktown Gang and was searching for someone from the rival 110 Gang the night of the shooting. Police say on November 28, 2010, Evans fired a weapon into a minivan holding Walker, his parents, and other passengers on Coolidge Avenue in Syracuse. Several bullets struck the toddler and killed him.

Police say the child's father, Rashaad Walker, Sr. was the target, and the shooting was in retaliation for a shooting two days prior that lead to the death of Kihary Blue. Blue was a former star quarterback and point guard for the Henninger High School football and basketball teams. He once scored 40 points in a basketball game and was a former CNY Central Athlete of the Week.

Police say Blue was not a gang member. He died about a week after he was shot.

Evans will stand trial for Walker Jr.â??s death before Judge John Brunetti in Onondaga County Court, before federal prosecutors can try him under RICO laws for his alleged gang activity. The feds have elected to not seek the death penalty in those gang-related charges.

The trial was scheduled for last June, but was delayed after Walker and other alleged gang members were indicted on federal racketeering charges.

The families of Evans and Walker were present in court on Monday morning. Evans' family members declined comment.

Rashad Walker's grandmother, Renee Beswick told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon the family has been anxiously awaiting the trial. "It's been trying." she said, "a 20 month old baby didn't deserve to die... we want justice for baby Rashad."

Beswick also said she reached out to Saquan Evans' mother prior to Monday's proceedings. "I hugged her and she began to weep...their side is going through trauma because if their son is found guilty, she is going to lose her son for years."

If convicted, Evans faces a prison term of 25 years to life.