Two men charged with killing a Chicago teenager who has become the face of that city’s growing problem with gun violence were ordered held without bail on Tuesday.
The pair, Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 28, are charged with first-degree murder in the Jan. 29 death of Hadiya Pendleton. The girl was shot days after the 15-year-old majorette and honor student had performed at President Obama’s inauguration in Washington. First Lady Michelle Obama was among the dignitaries who attended the teen’s funeral over the weekend.
Police have said that Ward confessed to the shooting which he told authorities was in retaliation for the shooting of Williams by a rival gang during the summer.
Pendleton was with friends and had no ties to the gangs’ feud, prosecutors said at the hearing, according to media reports from the courtroom. Prosecutors said Pendleton’s friends also had no gang ties and that the shooting appeared to be a mistake.
The shooting took place in a South Side park, about a mile from the Obamas’ house in Chicago. Pendleton’s parents will be sitting with Michelle Obama when the president gives the State of the Union speech Tuesday night.
In court, prosecutors disclosed that surveillance video captured the white Nissan the two used to flee after the shooting. Police had identified Williams and Ward as occupants of the car “within approximately 10 minutes of the shooting,” but the pair was not arrested until Saturday.
Ward’s lawyer, Jeffrey Granich, contended that police refused his client’s repeated requests for a lawyer while he was being questioned by detectives. He also maintained that Ward was being “railroaded” because of the high-profile homicide.
“This is a serious case, not a political platform,” Granich told reporters in the lobby of the Leighton Criminal Court Building.
Granich said Ward was attending Malcolm X College to obtain a GED, a requirement of his probation sentence for a weapons conviction.
Williams’ attorney, Matthew McQuaid, said his client had graduated from the same high school as Hadiya -- King College Prep -- and was working for an air courier service at O’Hare International Airport, the Chicago Tribune reported.
McQuaid also denied that Williams belonged to a gang.