It’s been six years since 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed, just a week after she and her marching band performed at an event celebrating President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.
On Monday, her killer, Michaeil Ward, was sentenced to 84-years in prison, after being convicted back in August of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated battery, CNN reports.
“I loathe Michaeil and his very existence because every breath he gets to take is one breath more than my 15-year-old daughter was allowed to breathe,” Cleopatra Cowley, Hadiya’s mother, said while reading her statement in court. “Hadiya is serving a death sentence handed down by Michaeil Ward and the family is doing life as a result of her death.”
Hadiya, along with two others, was shot in a case of mistaken identity, with Ward and his partner, Kenneth Williams, believing the group to be members of a rival gang. Police say that Ward confessed to the shooting, while Ward’s defense argued that his interrogation had been forced due to pressure to solve the horrific crime quickly.
Ward again tried to plead his case during sentencing, accusing prosecutors of not investigating the case properly, and pointing out that is cellphone had been pinged in a different town, from where it would have been impossible for him to reach the scene of the crime in the time frame that officials gave. He also pointed out that the murder weapon had never been presented.
“I just been found guilty and now I have to go do my life in jail because of something that all y’all had to do was take time to investigate,” Ward said.
Ward is the second person to be convicted in Hadiya’s death. Williams, who acted as a getaway driver, was also found guilty of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated battery by a separate jury last August.