Getaway driver in Hadiya Pendleton shooting sentenced to 42 years

Diane Pathieu Image
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Getaway driver in Hadiya Pendleton murder sentenced to 42 years
Kenneth Williams, the getaway driver in the shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, was sentenced to 42 years in prison Tuesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The getaway driver in the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton received a sentence of 42 years on Tuesday.

Pendleton's family was in court when Kenneth Williams was sentenced for his role in her murder.

Williams and Micheail Ward fired shots at Pendleton and her friends eight years ago as they hung out in Harsh Park, mistaking them for rival gang members. Ward was sentenced to 84 years in prison in 2019.

In her victim impact statement, Cleopatra Crowley said her family is still trying to rebuild their lives after the murder.

"Kenneth Williams is equally responsible for the physical death of our daughter, the death of her dreams and the generational death of her children and grandchildren," she said.

RELATED: Mickiael Ward, convicted in Hadiya Pendleton death, sentenced to 84 years in prison

Cleopatra Cowley, the mother of Hadiya Pendleton, reads a statement at the sentencing of the man convicted of killing her.

Cowley could occasionally be seen in court looking at Williams. He could not be seen because Williams refused to be photographed in his prison jumpsuit.

"We spend our days and weeks coping with the loss of so many opportunities coupled with the loss of our old lives," said Cowley.

Williams addressed the Pendleton family for the first time Tuesday. He expressed sympathy for their grief, but maintained his innocence.

"Just deep sadness hurt and pain in your voice directed to me, feel like, like a lot has been put on me as far as these circumstances," said Williams.

Pendleton was just weeks after she performed as a majorette in former President Barack Obama's second inauguration parade.

Pendleton's death made national headlines. Former First Lady Michelle Obama attended her funeral.

RELATED: Kenneth Williams found guilty in Hadiya Pendleton murder trial; Ward trial continues

Police said the two involved in the shooting are gang members, who drove by the park and opened fire into a crowd of King College Prep High School students.

Williams had faced up to 90 years in jail. Pendleton's parents said they're satisfied with the judge's ruling.

"Everything he had to say to me just really kind of went on deaf ears, just go, go do your time and we're going to do ours," said Nate Pendleton, Hadiya's father.

Williams represented himself in the sentencing hearing. He can appeal the decision but it's not known yet if he will do so.