Getaway driver in deadly shooting of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton sentenced to 42 years

Chicago Crime

CHICAGO — The getaway driver in the deadly shooting of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was sentenced to 42 years in prison on Tuesday.

Kenneth Williams was sentenced to 35 years for the murder and seven years for aggravated battery, for a total of 42 years.

He faced up to 90 years in prison for his role in the 2013 deadly shooting in Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood.

The convicted shooter, Micheail Ward, was sentenced in 2019, and is now serving an 84-year prison term.

Pendleton had just returned from performing with her high school band at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration when she was shot and killed in a park one mile away from the president’s home.

First lady Michelle Obama attended Hadiya’s funeral. In an emotional speech a few months later, she spoke about the shooting as she urged Chicago leaders to take action to curb gun violence, saying Hadiya’s life in many ways mirrored her own growing up on Chicago’s South Side.

“Hadiya Pendleton was me and I was her,” she said.

In court, Williams was given the opportunity to apologize to the family and said he thinks about their “little girl” everyday.

Outside of court, family said his words didn’t mean anything to them.

“Everyone that has a first offense starts with a blank record,” mother Cleopatra Cowley said. “So that doesn’t matter to me, that you didn’t kill anyone before you killed my daughter. The fact of the matter is, you murdered Hadiya, or you had a part to do with it, and justice has now prevailed.”

Family said it was “cruel irony” that Haydeia was killed in her hometown of Chicago after friends told her it was too dangerous to think about going to college overseas.

Williams will receive eight years credit against his sentence for time served because he’s been in jail since his arrest.

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