Man found guilty of murder of Chicago student who was gunned down in 2013
(CNN) – Hadiya Pendleton was only 15 and had performed at an event surrounding then-President Barack Obama’s second inauguration a week before she was shot in a Chicago park.
More than five years later, one of the men on trial for her murder was convicted Wednesday. A Chicago jury found Kenneth Williams guilty of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated battery.
As the verdict was read, Williams remained emotionless and lowered his head.
Prosecutors alleged that Williams was the getaway driver after co-defendant Michaeil Ward allegedly fired a gun into a crowd killing Pendleton on January 29, 2013. Williams and Ward are being tried together, but with separate juries because of different defenses, reported CNN affiliate WLS.
Closing arguments in Ward’s trial, before another jury, are expected to begin Thursday morning.
Police said in 2013 that Ward had confessed to shooting Pendleton and two others in a case of mistaken identity.
Ward and Williams sought revenge against the people who had shot Williams a few months before, police have said. They thought they had spotted members of a rival gang at the park when, police said, Ward sneaked up on Pendleton and her friends, and began shooting.
Pendleton’s cousin told CNN in a 2013 interview that the teenager was hanging out with a volleyball team — a group of girls and one boy — when she was killed. The shooting occurred in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood.
Pendleton, who often urged friends to stay away from gangs, was an honor student and band majorette at King College Prep School.
The death of the young honor student prompted a wave of debate about gun violence in Chicago. It also brought an outpouring of support for Pendleton’s family. Michelle Obama and members of the Obama administration attended her funeral.
Her friends have worn orange in her honor and called for gun reform. They chose orange because it’s the color hunters wear to avoid being shot.
“Orange is what hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others from harm,” the organization Wear Orange explains. “Orange is a bright, bold color that demands to be seen. Orange expresses our collective hope as a nation — a hope for a future free from gun violence.”