Defendant Micheail Ward appears just before closing arguments in his case during the trial for the fatal shooting of Hadiya Pendleton at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018.
A jury has found a second defendant guilty Thursday of first-degree murder in the killing of a 15-year-old high school honor student whose death in 2013 was a symbol of Chicago, on random gun violence.
The jury concluded Micheail Ward, who was 18 at the time, was guilty of firing the fatal shot that struck Hadiya Pendleton in the back. On Wednesday, a separate jury found the man accused of driving the getaway car, Kenneth Williams, guilty of first-degree murder.
As with the first jury, this took a little time to decide that a District is guilty. During the trial, jurors watched a video in that Ward confessed to the murder of the teenager a bit more than a week after they returned from Washington, where she performed as a majorette with her high school band at President Barack Obama’s inauguration festivities.
“There is justice for Hadiya,” said her mother, Cleopatra Cowley through tears after the verdict was delivered. “They did not deserve what happened to her.”
Ward said that he did not want to open fire on the city’s park in the South where Pendleton and friends were gathered after the completion of their exams. But he said Williams told him that if he did not Williams would kill him. Ward said he got out of the car and he and Williams were in and walked to a gate and opened fire on the group of young people, in whom he believed, were members of a rival gang.
The case against the two men was further strengthened by the grand jury testimony of two friends of Williams, who said that shortly after the shooting, Williams and Ward said that the District had taken part in a shooting. During the trial, the two men back off to their grand jury testimony, say that they are not forgotten being told about the shooting, but prosecutors read their grand jury testimony of the jurors.
Ward’s mother, April Ward, claimed the police forced her son into a confession.
“I’m disappointed how they just harassed these kids in a confession,” she said. “She was there and manipulated him to say what they wanted to hear.”
During closing arguments on Thursday, prosecutors pointed to statements Ward made to both fellow gang members and detectives, pointing, for example on Ward’s false statement that the teenager was shot and killed because a rival gang member had used her as a shield.
“You saw that he tried to justify the killing of a 15-year-old innocent girl,” said the Assistant State’s Attorney James Papa, who told jurors there were no other gang members in the park at the time of the shooting.
Defense attorneys countered with the argument that the detectives focused solely on the Ward, and Williams because they are under great pressure to solve a case that has caught was a big national news.
“They blocked everything else,” said one of the District attorneys, Gina Piemonte, who said that the fact that the District in his confession got numerous facts wrong suggests detectives coerced him into admitting his guilt.
But the rapid verdict suggests that the jury had little trouble discounting the contention by Ward’s attorneys.
The death of Pendleton, came to symbolize random gun violence in Chicago because the girl with the own history and because of her connection with the president of the United States and the first lady. The park where the teenager was killed was about a mile from the Obama’s Chicago home
Although the teen was just one of more than 3,000 murder victims in the city since the days of 2013, and was killed before the number of homicides in Chicago increased, its dead on by the reaction of the White House.
Obama spoke of the girl died during his 2013 State of the Union address. The killing prompted Michelle Obama to return to Chicago, first to attend the teenager’s funeral and then later to see that a crowd gathered not far from where she herself grew up, “Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I her.”
Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.