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Getaway driver 42-year-old in Chicago in honor of student death

CHICAGO (AP) – The driver on the run in the fatal 2013 shooting of an honored Chicago high school student that, days before his death, occurred during President Barack Obama’s second inauguration festivities has was sentenced Tuesday to 42 years in prison.

The driver, Kenneth Williams, was convicted in 2018 of first degree murder in the shooting of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, whose death sparked a nationwide outcry against gun violence in Chicago. Two other teenagers were injured in the shooting.

Cook County Circuit Judge Diana Kenworthy on Tuesday ordered Williams to serve 35 years on the murder conviction and seven more years on aggravated assault and battery.

Pendleton died just days after performing as a cheerleader with her high school band during Obama’s inauguration festivities. The shooting scene is about a mile from the former president’s home in Kenwood, south Chicago.

In her victim impact statement, Pendleton’s mother Cleopatra Cowley said she and her family are still trying to rebuild their lives.

“Kenneth Williams is also responsible for the physical death of our daughter, the death of her dreams and the generational deaths of her children and grandchildren,” Cowley said before Williams’ conviction.

Williams addressed the Pendleton family, expressing sympathy for their grief, but now his innocence.

“Just a deep sadness and pain in your voice directed at me, I feel like a lot has been done to me under these circumstances,” Williams said.

Micheail Ward, the man convicted of shooting Pendleton and his friends in a park near their high school, was sentenced in 2019 to 84 years in prison. Prosecutors said the teens were innocent victims of a gang war that lasted for years.

Ward and Williams were arrested on the day of Pendleton’s funeral, a service attended by then-first lady Michelle Obama. When questioned by investigators, Ward initially admitted to being the shooter and said he acted on Williams’ orders.

Kenworthy said Williams was more than just a getaway driver.

“They were looking for people to shoot. Said the judge.

Williams faced up to 90 years in prison. Pendleton’s parents said they were satisfied with the sentence.

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