The man who fatally shot Hadiya Pendleton, the Chicago 15-year-old killed just days after performing with her high school band at then-President Obama's second inauguration, was sentenced Monday to 84 years in prison. Police said Michaeil Ward confessed to killing the teen and wounding two others in a case of mistaken identity related to a gang turf war, but his defense attorney argued that interrogation was forced, and at the sentencing hearing, Ward insisted prosecutors didn't look at all the evidence, CNN reports. "I just been found guilty and now I have to go do my life in jail because of something that all y'all had to do was take time to investigate," he said in his first public comments since being arrested, insisting his cellphone pinged in a different part of town and it would have been impossible for him to reach the area where Pendleton was killed in the time frame prosecutors gave.
He also asked why the gun used in the crime was not presented, pointing at Pendleton's family as he said, "I just want to know that." But Pendleton's mother was not swayed, asking the judge for the maximum sentence and saying, "I loathe Michaeil and his very existence because every breath he gets to take is one breath more than my 15-year-old daughter was allowed to breathe. Hadiya is serving a death sentence handed down by Michaeil Ward and the family is doing life as a result of her death." She noted that the family had been planning to get Hadiya's passport the weekend she was killed as they prepared to take a trip overseas: "Instead we had to plan her funeral." The earliest Ward, who was 18 when Pendleton was killed, could be released would be in his late 90s, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He plans to appeal his conviction, the Chicago Tribune reports. (Michelle Obama attended the honor student's funeral, and later memorably said, "Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I was her.")