Home Local Appeals court orders new trial for man convicted of killing 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, shot days after performing at Obama inauguration

Appeals court orders new trial for man convicted of killing 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, shot days after performing at Obama inauguration

by staff

An Illinois appeals court on Friday overturned the convictions of a man who was serving an 84-year sentence in the 2013 shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old honors student and a majorette who had performed at then-President Barack Obama’s second inauguration days before she was killed.

Micheail Ward was convicted of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated battery following a lengthy jury trial in 2018.


The appeals court ruled that the trial judge should have thrown out statements Ward made to Chicago police detectives that implicated himself, finding that detectives continued to question him after he invoked his right to remain silent.

The court ordered a new trial for Ward.


“After each of the three times Mr. Ward alleges he invoked his right to silence, the detectives took a break but then eventually resumed questioning him,” the opinion said.

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

A high school sophomore and honors student, Pendleton was spending time in Harsh Park with friends after finishing final exams at King College Prep High School when Ward got out of a car and opened fire on Jan. 29, 2013, prosecutors have said.

Ward and his co-defendant Kenneth Williams, allegedly members of the SUWU gang, targeted members of the rival 4-6 Terror gang at the park, their hangout, as part of an ongoing feud that saw Williams himself shot, prosecutors have alleged.

The slaying sparked a national outcry against Chicago’s gun violence, and first lady Michelle Obama attended the teen’s funeral.

While being questioned, Ward, around 1:40 a.m., said, “I ain’t got nothin’ else to say,” according to the opinion, among other instances of stating he would remain silent.

Defendant Micheail Ward's video-recorded confession is played during the trial for the fatal shooting of Hadiya Pendleton at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago on Aug. 21, 2018.

Ward made “several inculpatory statements” after being held for about 12 hours, the opinion said.

“I didn’t even want to do it,” Ward, then 18, said as he began to cry, according to video shown to the jury. “I didn’t want to do that (expletive), man. I liked that girl.”


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Ward spoke to detectives about the relationship between the rival gangs, as well as another homicide, telling police, according to the opinion: “that was the final straw. It was over with. … I loved that boy and they killed him. They shot him in the head.” Ward said, “that (expletive) hurted — hurted me to a point where everybody had to go, but not that girl though. That girl had nothin’ to do with it. She was just there.”

In making its ruling, the appeals court found that the evidence against Ward was sufficient to support his convictions, a bar necessary in order for the state to retry him.

During Ward’s trial, prosecutors introduced testimony from nine King High School students who witnessed the shooting, among other evidence.

Among the King students who testified, only one identified Ward as the shooter “though he did not become certain of that identification until trial,” according to the opinion, which said the case was “partly circumstantial.”

It found, though, that “considering all the above evidence, we certainly cannot say that no rational trier of fact could have found Mr. Ward guilty of the offenses beyond a reasonable doubt.”

A judge in 2021 sentenced Williams, who prosecutors said drove the getaway car, to 42 years in prison.



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