2 charged in Hadiya Pendleton murder held without bail - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

2 charged in Hadiya Pendleton murder held without bail

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Michael Ward (left), Kenneth Williams (right) charged in connection with the fatal shooting of Hadiya Pendleton Michael Ward (left), Kenneth Williams (right) charged in connection with the fatal shooting of Hadiya Pendleton
Victim, Hadiya Pendleton, 15. Victim, Hadiya Pendleton, 15.
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

On the same day that Hadiya Pendleton's family shared the spotlight with President Obama, her two accused killers made their first appearance in court Tuesday.

Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, were each ordered held without bail Tuesday in the murder of the King College Prep honor student.

Ward, the man accused of shooting Hadiya Pendleton in a Chicago park, allegedly told police that the 15-year-old had "nothing to do with it. She was simply there," prosecutors said. They also say Williams gave Ward the gun and was the getaway driver.

Hadiya was huddled with a group of King College Prep students under a canopy at Vivian Gordon Harsh Park in the 4400 block of South Oakenwald Jan. 29, when Ward — mistaking the group for rival gang members — allegedly opened fire. Ward was allegedly seeking retaliation after Williams was shot in the arm in July. 

"The defendant stated that when the rival gang killed one of his friends, he thought, ‘if we keep standing for **** bitches, we are going to be some straight bitches.' Those are his words," State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said, outlining the case.

"Chief Kiael" and "Kells" are among Ward's nicknames, and he has an "April" tattoo on his lower left arm, according to a police report. Williams is a member of the Gangster Disciples, according to his police report.

Both Ward and Williams were arrested Saturday at 67th and Martin Luther King Drive as they headed to a strip club in Harvey to celebrate a friend's birthday, investigators said. Each is charged with first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.

Ward offered no resistance, while Williams tried unsuccessfully to flee, police said. Prosecutors say that surveillance cameras and eyewitnesses placed both of the suspects near the park where the shootings occurred.

Despite prosecutors telling the judge that the 18-year-old has already confessed to the shooting, Ward believes alibi witnesses may be able to prove he was not at the crime scene.

"The victim in this case, Ms. Pendleton, believed in what this country is all about," Defense Attorney Jeffrey Granich says. "And what this country is about, we do not railroad people."

Michael Ward's attorney's suggested the 18-year-old South Sider is wrongly being held up as the poster boy for violence issues nationwide.

"This is a serious criminal case. This is not a political situation. This is not a political platform," Granich says.

Williams' attorney says his client is not a gang member and that he works for a courier service at O'Hare after graduating from King College Prep, like Hadiya Pendleton.

Prosecutors say Michael Ward was on probation for a gun charge, and has a juvenile record for robbery and theft. Ward's attorney says he never finished high school but has been studying for a G.E.D, while working as a temp for a janitorial firm.

"He believes that he didn't do anything wrong here," says Defense Attorney Matt McQuaid. "He's indicating that he's not involved in this, and that's the position that we're taking at this point."

Hadiya, an honors student and majorette who had performed at President Barack Obama's inauguration, has become a national symbol of senseless violence. First lady Michelle Obama flew in to attend Hadiya's South Side funeral.

"The offenders had it all wrong," Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Monday evening after announcing murder charges against both men. "They thought the group they shot into included members of a rival gang, instead, it was a group of upstanding determined kids, who, like Hadiya, were repulsed by the gang lifestyle."

Hadiya's mother, Cleopatra Pendleton, was thrilled by the news Monday.

"I'm ecstatic. The whole family is ecstatic. I just pray they are penalized to the full extent of the law," said Pendleton, who was in the nation's capital to attend President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

"There's no closure," she said of the arrests. "She was robbed of a lot of different experiences, but it helps."

 

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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