Man sentenced to 70 years for killing teen
Milton Wardlaw (Chicago Tribune)
Milton Wardlaw was convicted by a jury in July in the 2008 fatal shooting of Kiyanna Salter, 17.
In handing down the sentence, Judge Diane Cannon noted that Wardlaw had already stepped off the bus and was in no danger when he pulled out a gun and fired through the rear exit doors at a man he’d quarreled with after being bumped in the arm.
“Someone had the audacity to brush your arm on a CTA bus, without any malice…and according to you, he has to die,” Cannon said. “As a person who takes (public) transportation, I think I can attest that we should all be dead, according to you.”
Wardlaw, 27, issued a short apology to Salter’s family, calling her death an accident. He also cited his four young children in seeking mercy from the judge.
“I’m deeply sorry. ... I accidentally killed Kiyanna Salter,” said Wardlaw, standing at the defense table in a red jail jumpsuit while Salter’s mother, Kenya Jackson, wept quietly a few feet away.
Salter, a Julian High School senior, and a friend were on a 71st-South Shore bus when Wardlaw exchanged words with another passenger near the rear exit door. The two-day trial centered on video from the bus that showed Wardlaw exit near Cottage Grove Avenue, turn back and fire at least one shot at the rear door. Salter, struck in the head, died at the scene.
Wardlaw, a Gangster Disciple who was on parole for a weapons conviction at the time of the shooting, testified he was carrying a gun that night for protection because he had been "jumped" days earlier. Wardlaw said the other man on the bus had bumped him and they exchanged words. The other man lifted up his shirt and showed a silver gun stuck in his waistband, Wardlaw said.
Wardlaw said he fired a shot because he was scared.
"When I got off the bus, it was like fear took over," he testified. "I just reacted."
Salter had opted to stay in Chicago to graduate from high school even though her mother had recently moved the family to a different neighborhood to get away from gang violence.
Assistant State’s Attorney David Weiner told the judge that her mother still wrestles with the decision to let her daughter stay, and was unable to bring herself to submit a victim-impact statement to the court.
“Nobody has more regret, more pain and heartache than her,” Weiner said.