Chicago, IL — Micheail Ward, a 24-year old Black man from Chicago, was recently sentenced to 84 years in prison for killing Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year old honors student, back in 2013. Pendleton, who was shot and killed a week after performing as a band majorette at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, served as a symbol of gun violence in Chicago.
Pendleton was fatally shot when Ward and co-defendant Kenneth Williams allegedly attacked her and her friends in a park when they have mistaken them to members of their rival gang. Both Ward and Williams had ties to a violent gang in Chicago.
Cook County Judge Nicholas Ford imposed Ward’s 84-year sentence five months after he and Williams were convicted of murder in connection to the death of Pendleton and aggravated battery for wounding two others.
During the hearing, Ward denied that he was the gunman who fired the shot that killed Pendleton. He said, “I am upset that I’m the one that’s going down for a murder that I didn’t commit.”
“All y’all had to do was sit down and really investigate this crime… Y’all would have seen what happened,” Ward told the prosecutors.
It contradicts his initial statements to police, including a video of his confession that his lawyers said was coerced. They now claim that Ward, who was then aged 18, was manipulated to make a false statement. They also added that Ward is innocent as proven by his wrong facts about the shooting
Meanwhile, Judge Ford criticized Ward for not showing any remorse and demonstrating “a complete absence of empathy.”
Cleopatra Cowley, Pendleton’s mother, wanted the judge to give maximum sentence to Ward. She told the court, “Hadiya is serving a death sentence handed down by Micheail Ward, and all the family is doing life as a result.”
The incident, which became a symbol of gun violence in Chicago, has sparked controversies on gun control. Then-president Obama mentioned Pendleton’s death during his 2013 State of the Union Address. Former first lady Michelle Obama attended her funeral.