NJ man gets 94 years for 2 gang slayings

A jailhouse beating death spurred passage of a law to help to expose violence in city jails.

September 18, 2010 11:38:41 AM PDT
A New Jersey man convicted in the shooting deaths of a young boy and a man who were mistaken for gang members has received a lengthy prison term.

Edariel "Riddick" Melendez, who Union County prosecutors say is a member of the Crips street gang, received a 94-year term on Friday. He must serve 85 percent - about 80 years - before becoming eligible for parole.

The 22-year-old Elizabeth resident was convicted in June of murder, conspiracy and weapons offenses for his roles in the November 2007 shootings in Elizabeth.

Prosecutors say 13-year-old Elijah Henderson was killed while riding a bicycle, and a friend with him was wounded. Two days later, 54-year-old Celso Pedra was gunned down.

Authorities say Melendez and another man were seeking retaliation against rival gang members for the murder of another Crips member.