'Rest, it's over,' mom says at child's grave after murder conviction

6-year-old Aiden Howard was killed on February 12, 2015 when Juan Daniel’s SUV plowed into the...
6-year-old Aiden Howard was killed on February 12, 2015 when Juan Daniel’s SUV plowed into the side of an apartment complex in Montgomery. (Source: Howard family)
Updated: May. 24, 2018 at 6:38 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A Montgomery County jury convicted Juan Daniels of capital murder Wednesday for driving an SUV through an apartment, killing 6-year-old Aiden Howard. The verdict came down in less than an hour.

Marquita Arrington's heart was racing when the jury announced it had reached a verdict in the death of her young son.

"I thought it was going to take hours," Arrington said of the jury, "but it only took fifteen to twenty minutes. When they came out I just broke down. I was hot, cold and could feel my heart, but I knew I had faith," she added.

Arrington remembers the first charge the jury foreman read. "Guilty of capital murder for Aiden," Arrington said.

Despite the time that's passed, her emotional wounds are still raw, longing to see her little boy.

"I continue to go to the gravesite," Arrington sobbed. "It was raining, but I still went. I sat until it got dark."

After the jury handed down a capital murder conviction for the man who killed her 6-year-old, there was only one place she wanted to go.

"I told him to rest, it's over," she said.

This week Arrington relived the worst moment of her life while coming face-to-face with Juan Daniels, the man who took her son's life, someone she had reservations about from the start, even though he was married to her sister.

Those reservations escalated on Feb. 12, 2015.

"I think he was intending to kill all of us because he knew we were all in that apartment," Arrington said of the incident. She avoided her sister's apartment when Daniels was there, but that night she didn't know he would be around, let alone get in a fight with her nephew.

"I told Aiden, 'Put your jacket on, when I come out from the bathroom we are leaving'," she recalled. "And I heard a boom."

Aiden was sitting on the couch watching cartoons when Daniels' SUV slammed through the apartment unit.

It's something she replays in her head every day, though she tries to focus her thoughts on the sweet little boy watching cartoons that night and not the tragedy that stripped away her life and her family.

"He was 9 pounds, 10 ounces when he was born," Arrington said, smiling.

"All he did was smile. He got a little older and went to Headstart and would say 'Mama, I know how to write my name and I know my colors,'".

Arrington says her son loved school and playing football.

"He was always ready for practice and listened to the coaches," she remembered.

Aiden would be turning ten in a few weeks, marking the summer before his fifth-grade year.

"I love my son, and I miss him."

Daniels will be sentenced in June.  A capital murder conviction is an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Daniels made headlines previously before serving time for beating a chained dog named Louis Vuitton, then setting him on fire. Louis survived the horrific injuries and was later adopted. The dog turned 15 in November.

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