Suspects charged with Hadiya Pendleton murder plead not guilty - Fox 2 News Headlines

Suspects charged with Hadiya Pendleton murder plead not guilty

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Michael Ward and Kenneth Williams. Michael Ward and Kenneth Williams.
Nathaniel "Nate" Pendleton. (Photo courtesy of FOX 32's Lisa Chavarria) Nathaniel "Nate" Pendleton. (Photo courtesy of FOX 32's Lisa Chavarria)
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The two men accused in the murder of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton were arraigned Thursday morning. Michael Ward and Kenneth Williams both entered not guilty pleas.

Ken Williams, 20, was charged with 17 counts of first degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated battery and one count of mob action. 

Michael Ward, 18, was charged with 141 counts of first degree murder, 117 counts of attempted murder, 10 counts of aggravated discharge and one count of mob action. 

Defense attorney Jeff Granich said he's never seen a murder case with anything close to 141 counts and says prosecutors look "silly" piling on that many counts.

"They're trying to puff up their chest--and show we're taking this case so seriously, these are the charges we've come up with," Granich says. "I'm surprised he's not charged with littering with bullet casings--I think it's really absurd."

Granich initially believed his client, 18-year-old Michael Ward, and co-defendant, 20-year-old Kenneth Williams, faced the same number of counts. But the Cook County State's Attorney's Office explained later that Ward faces 141 counts of first-degree murder and Williams 17 counts. Prosecutors declined further comment.

These charges were all for the Jan. 29 gang-related shooting. Hadiya Pendleton was an innocent victim.

The two suspects also faced attempted murder charges for wounding some of Hadiya's friends, who were also present. Pendleton and her friends were taking shelter from the rain under a canopy near her school when the incident occurred.

Prosecutors said surveillance video, eyewitness statements and the defendants' own words place them at the crime scene. They said Williams drove the getaway car - and provided the gun to Ward - who was shooting at the group and mistook them for rival gang members.

The defense attorneys for the accused said their clients have been railroaded by police and prosecutors, who were under a lot of pressure to make a break in this case.

Ward and Williams have been denied bond in the very crowded courtroom on Thursday. They will remain in jail without bail and are due back in court again for a status hearing on May 6.

Hadiya's father, Nathaniel "Anthony" Pendleton, said seeing the suspects certainly angered him. But he and his wife Cleopatra Pendleton continue to work to keep their daughter's memory alive.

"I mean, we're staying busy," Pendleton said. "Sitting back and relaxing is not going to make any changes happen with the mindset of our younger generation. So right now, like I said, we're getting some foundation off the ground - Hadiya's foundation - and we're going to make a lot of good things happen."

"It's a long road that we gotta cross," he added. "Right now there's really no feeling...You're gonna feel some bit of anger but right now everything is on them. I have more than enough confidence that they will do what they need to do."

SEE: Hadiya Pendleton foundation in the works

Cleo was in Washington D.C. Thursday, campaigning for legislation to protect other kids from gang and gun violence and create a safer environment in which they can grow up.

The crime brought national attention to Chicago's violence problem, as Pendleton was fatally shot one week after performing at inaugural festivities for President Obama, only about a mile from the Obama family's South Side home.

First Lady Michelle Obama attended the 15-year-old girl's funeral and sat next her parents during the president's State of the Union address. President Obama also came to Chicago to address gun violence a short time later.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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