CHICAGO — Testimony continued Wednesday in the trial of two men charged in the murder of Hadiya Pendleton, the South Side teenager gunned down in a park just days after performing in President Obama's second inauguration in 2013.
The prosecution is relying on a mostly circumstantial case with no physical evidence, and calling to the stand former gang members and friends of the defendants who were with them the day of the shooting. The trial began on Monday.
On Tuesday, one alleged gang member claimed he couldn’t remember telling a grand jury he heard Kenneth Williams confess to the shooting. That pattern continued Wednesday, as prosecution witness Jarod Randolph suffered from extreme memory loss took as he took the stand.
The media was asked not to show the face of the self-admitted former gang member to protect his identity. As Randolph took the stand, he explained his amnesia by saying, "I do a lot of drugs."
After he said he “couldn’t remember,” prosecutors questioned Randolph about the testimony he gave under oath shortly after Pendleton's shooting in January of 2013. In that testimony, Randolph claimed defendant Michael Ward told him he “popped out” of a car and opened fire on some people in Harsh Park.
"I don’t remember him telling me that," Randolph said Wednesday.
Pendleton and a group of King College Prep High School students had gone to the park on 44th and Oakenwald to smoke weed after school. Under cross-examination, Ward's defense tried to get Randolph to admit he told an investigator that police threatened to violate his parole unless he told them what they wanted to hear. To that he again said he could not remember.
Earlier in the day, a friend of both Ward and Randolph named Tyron Lawrence testified about shooting a rap video in which Ward could be seen wearing a light blue nike sweatshirt similar to the one a witness told police he saw the gunman wearing the day of the shooting.
He also verified surveillance video taken from a gas station at 35th and King Drive that allegedly shows Ward and Kenneth Williams in the front seat of a white car. That testimony was meant to show Ward and Williams were in a white car, similar to the one seen fleeing the shooting scene. Under cross-examination Lawrence said police threatened him.
Lawrence also asked not to have his face shown to protect his identity.
There was also testimony from the medical examiner that performed Haydia’s autopsy Wednesday. including graphic autopsy photos of the teen's body. It was a pretty shocking moment that WGN decided not to show in its reporting.
The trial is expected to take up to two weeks.