Twenty-eight-year-old Kenneth Williams was sentenced to 47 years in prison on July 20 for his part in the murder of Hadiya Pendleton, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Pendleton, 15, had just performed with her school’s band at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama just one week before her death on Jan. 29, 2013.
Pendleton was an honors student at King College Prep High School and a drum majorette for the school’s band. The murder happened at Vivian Gordon Harsh Park after the teen and her friends took shelter from the rain.
Michael Ward opened fire on the group after mistaking them for rival gang members. Pendleton was shot in the back. Ward got into a white Nissan driven by Williams and fled the scene. Ward was convicted of pulling the trigger and received a sentence of 84 years in prison. He was also convicted of first-degree murder. He teared up before addressing the court and Pendleton’s mother, Cleopatra Cowley.
“I felt like I was doing everything right. I was in school, I was working at O’Hare, and I was on my way to the Armed Forces. I just think to myself, like where did I go wrong?” said Williams. “In a sense of me thinking where did I go wrong, I think about you, Ms. Cowley, and think, how’s her day working out. That’s a void – an everyday void that you have to deal with.”
Cowley said that Williams was equally responsible for her daughter’s death and pushed for the maximum sentence in court. A sad ending for the little girl who had appeared in a public service announcement in 2008 about gang violence.
Kenneth Williams, the getaway driver in the Hadiya Pendleton shooting, sentenced to 42 years. The teen was killed after an Obama parade performance. https://t.co/0628DrPzcN
— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) July 21, 2021
Today should have been Hadiya Pendleton’s 24th birthday.
On January 21, 2013, Hadiya—a high school student from the south side of Chicago—marched in President Obama’s second inaugural parade. One week later, Hadiya was shot and killed on a playground in Chicago. ⠀ pic.twitter.com/aGOnGASMTN
— Everytown (@Everytown) June 2, 2021
After Williams is released from prison, he will serve another three years under mandatory supervision. No word yet if Williams’ lawyers will appeal.