Eight years after the murder of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton at a Chicago park, her family says they have finally received their last piece of justice, as the man who drove the getaway car from the scene was sentenced to 42 years in prison Tuesday.
Kenneth Williams, who was 20 at the time of the 2013 shooting, was sentenced during a hearing on Tuesday, and Pendleton’s parents say that they are grateful that both of the men convicted in the killing of their daughter will be behind bars for a long time.
“He will be doing time, and we are thankful,” Nathaniel Pendleton, Hadiya’s father, said.
Hadiya Pendleton was killed on Jan. 29, 2013 while standing with a group of friends at Harsh Park in Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood. Her death, which took place just nine days after she performed at events during former President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, shocked the nation.
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Then-first lady Michelle Obama attended Pendleton’s Chicago funeral, and the former president mentioned her death at his State of the Union address that year, with her parents in attendance.
In 2018, Williams was found guilty of first-degree murder in connection with the case. Michael Ward, who was 18 at the time of the shooting, was found guilty the next day. He was sentenced to 84 years in prison.
Before the sentencing was handed down, Williams addressed the court, saying that while he felt “deep sadness” for Pendleton’s death, he still says that he was innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted.
“I cannot take responsibility for something I had no intent, no active participation, no inactive participation, and no awareness of,” he said.
Williams represented himself in court on Tuesday, and did not appear on camera.
Pendleton’s parents dismissed Williams’ remarks.
“You murdered Hadiya. You had a part in doing that, and now justice has finally prevailed,” Cleopatra Pendleton, Hadiya’s mother, said.
“Everything (Williams) had to say to me fell on deaf ears,” Nathaniel Pendleton added. “You do your time, and we’re going to do ours.”