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 suspect who claimed that he was forced to kill a 15-year-old high school honor student in Chicago’s South Side in 2013 was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder.
Shooter death of Hadiya Pendleton, is found guilty of her murder https://t.co/wLp30AsWlH @dsplacko reports pic.twitter.com/slMrNneGe6
— FOX 32 News (@fox32news) August 24, 2018
The jury concluded that Micheail Ward was guilty of firing the fatal shot that struck Hadiya Pendleton in the back, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The ruling — in a case that drew national attention and came to symbolize Chicago’s rampant gun violence — brought a sense of relief to Pendleton’s family.
“There is justice for Hadiya,” Pendleton’s mother, Cleopatra Cowley, said after the verdict was delivered. “They did not deserve what happened to her.”
“There is justice for Hadiya. They did not deserve what happened to her.”
– Cleopatra Cowley, mother of slain honor student Hadiya Pendleton
On Wednesday, a separate jury found the man accused of driving the getaway car, Kenneth Williams, guilty of first-degree murder.
During the trial, jurors watched a video in which Ward confesses to killing Pendleton in a South Side park. Pendleton had just returned from Washington, where she performed as a majorette with her high school band at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.
Ward said Williams would kill him if he doesn’t open fire, because he believed Pendleton and her friends were a rival gang. 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.
Ward’s mother insisted her son, who was 18 at the time of the death of Pendleton, is innocent and was forced by Chicago police detectives into confessing, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“I’m disappointed in our criminal justice system,” she said Thursday at the judgment. “I’m disappointed by the way they just harassed these kids in a confession.”
Despite the fact that one of the 3,000 deaths in that year, Pendleton’s murder drew national attention when it was mentioned by President Obama during his 2013 State of the Union address. The killing, which happened within a mile of the obama’s Chicago home, asked Michelle Obama to attend Pendleton’s funeral.
“Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I her,” the first lady told an audience then.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.