CHICAGO (CBS) — 84 years in prison.
That’s the sentence handed down today for Micheail Ward. He’s the gunman who killed 15-year-old honor student Hadiya Pendleton – making her the tragic face of Chicago’s gun violence.
After the victim impact statements, after Micheail Ward’s family members took the stand asking for mercy, Hadiya Pendleton’s convicted murderer insisted he was framed.
“At the end of the day, now I’m going to jail for the rest of my life for absolutely nothing. I’m hurt,” Ward said.
Ward was found guilty of firing into a park in January of 2013. Prosecutors said he thought he was shooting at rival gang members. Instead he killed Pendleton, a 15-year-old honor student. Her mother told the court she loathed Ward and had no sympathy for him or his family.
“Please the give murderer of my first born child, Hadiya S. Pendleton, that the law will allow. The absolute max,” Cowley said.
Ward’s mother and grandmother described a bright and helpful young man who helped take care of his younger siblings.
“My neighbors would watch what he was doing and said ‘your grandson is doing a good job,'” said Ruby Cavin.
Judge Nicholas Ford, citing Ward’s lengthy juvenile record and chances he had been given to stay out of trouble, sent Ward to prison for 84 years.
“I heard the defendant’s protestation of innocence. He placed blame on any source you can imagine, other than his own conduct,” Ford said.
“We believe the sentencing was just, based on the crime committed, basically a life sentence,” said Pendleton’s mother Cleo Pendleton. “Hadiya has lost her life and now he’ll spend the rest of his life behind bars.”
Ward’s attorneys plan to appeal. They said his confession was coerced. If the appeal fails, Ward would not be eligible for release from prison, even with good behavior, until he’s very old man.
His co-defendant, Kenneth Williams, is awaiting sentencing.