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Men Convicted Of Murdering 15-Year-Old Honor Student Who Sang At Obama Inauguration

"I feel like finally, something positive in our life has happened," Hadiya Pendleton's mother said through tears.

By Gina Tron

Two men were found guilty this week in the senseless slaying of a Chicago honor student who sang at Barack Obama's second presidential inauguration just weeks before she was gunned down.

Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was shot to death in January 2013, not long after returning to her hometown after a performance at the high-profile Washington D.C. event.

Micheail Ward was found guilty on Thursday of first-degree murder for shooting the teen, the Associated Press reported. Kenneth Williams, who drove the getaway car from which Ward opened fire, was convicted a day earlier on the same charge.

Hadiya and her friends had been taking cover from some rain when Ward shot at them, in what authorities described as a case of mistaken identity. Ward and Williams claimed that they thought the group belonged to a rival gang, WBBM-TV in Chicago reported.

The shooting was in apparent retaliation for an attack six months earlier that left Williams wounded.

"I didn't want to do that shit, man. I liked that girl," Ward told detectives in his videotaped interrogation. Later, his defense attorneys argued that he was coerced into a false confession.

Both Ward and Williams were 18 at the time of the shooting.

After Ward’s verdict was read this week, Hadiya’s mother, Cleopatra Cowley, told WLS-TV in Chicago, "My tears today are because I feel like finally, something positive in our life has happened, as a result of our daughter being gone. There is justice for Hadiya now, because she did not deserve that.”

Former First Lady Michelle Obama attended the standout student's funeral, according to the Chicago Tribune. At the ceremony, Hadiya was described as serious when it came to schoolwork, but goofy and fun when it came to her social life.

[Photos: Chicago Police Department]

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