One of the men convicted in the 2013 fatal shooting of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was sentenced to 84 years in prison on Monday. 

The gunman, Mickieal Ward, was 18 at the time of the shooting. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Ward was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm but denied being the shooter.

He made a passionate plea to the court proclaiming his innocence and calling for a more thorough investigation.  

"I am upset that I'm the one that's going down for a murder that I did not commit, that I just got found guilty, and now I've got to go do my life in jail, because of something that all y'all had to do was take time to investigate it," Ward said in court.

ABC 7 News reports Ward fired into a crowd of people he believed to be gang rivals

Hadiya was shot in a park about a mile away from former President Barack Obama's Kenwood home on January 29, 2013. Reports state she was leaving school and on her way to a friend's house before the shooting. She performed as a majorette at Obama's second inaugural parade just days before her death. Two other King College Prep High School students were wounded in the gunfire of a gang feud.  

Her death has been hard for family members. Hadiya's mother, Cleopatra Cowley, gave an impassioned plea demanding that the court give Ward the maximum sentence. 

"I have no sympathy for him whatsoever, nor his family," she said in court. "To be frank, it’s because they’ll never understand the hell that we’ve been living."

The shooting became a symbol for the rampant gun violence plaguing the city. Obama talked at length about the teen during his State of the Union address in 2013. First lady Michelle Obama often referenced her during appearances in Chicago.

"Hadiya's family was just like my family. Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I was her… But I got to grow up," the former first lady said at a 2013 fundraiser in the city.  

NBC Chicago reports an accomplice, Kenneth Williams, was convicted for reportedly acting as the getaway driver. He was also charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery. Ward's attorneys plan to appeal the court's decision.


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