Defendant Kenneth Williams listens during his trial in August 2018. | Sun-Times file

Kenneth Williams was convicted in 2018 of the 15-year-old’s murder.

A Cook County judge Tuesday handed down a 42-year prison sentence for the getaway driver who drove 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton’s killer away from the South Side park where she was shot more than eight years ago.

Kenneth Williams, now 28, was convicted in 2018 of the 15-year-old King College Prep student’s murder, but an appeal as well as the global coronavirus pandemic delayed his sentencing for nearly three years.

In her ruling, Judge Diana Kenworthy said Williams was more than just a getaway driver in the shooting.

“[Williams] was not taken by surprise,” judge said of the shooting. “They were looking for people to shoot.”

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times
Hadiya Pendleton’s parents, Cleopatra Cowley (center) and Nathaniel Pendleton Sr. (left), walk with supporters Tuesday afternoon into the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

Williams was behind the wheel of a white Nissan that sped away after gunman Micheail Ward fired multiple times into a crowd of Chicago students in January 2013, striking Pendleton and two others, less than a mile from President Barack Obama’s Kenwood home.

Pendleton, a majorette, had performed at at Obama’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., just two weeks earlier.

Ward and Williams were arrested on the day of Pendleton’s funeral.

During an interrogation by detectives, Ward initially admitted to being the shooter and said he had acted on Williams’ orders, though he later claimed he was innocent of the crime.

He was also convicted of her murder and sentenced in 2019 to 84 years in prison, which he is serving at the Pontiac Correctional Center.

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