CHICAGO (STMW) — A South Side man sentenced to 70 years in prison for killing a teenage girl on a CTA bus apologized in court Thursday, claiming the death was “an accident.”

“I want you all to know I’m sorry. I accidentally killed Kiyanna. I know I have to pay for what I did,” Milton Wardlaw said.

As Wardlaw, 27, looked toward Kiyanna Salter’s relatives, the dead teen’s mother softly cried, dabbing a tissue to her eye.

Kenya Jackson has endured so much “heartache, pain and regret,” she couldn’t write a victim impact statement discussing the loss of her child, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney David Weiner said.

Three days before the fatal shooting, Jackson moved her family to Elgin, believing her family would be safer there.

But Salter, 17, wanted to finish off the school year and graduate from Julian High School.

Salter was killed when Wardlaw opened fire at a No. 71 bus because he was angry that another passenger had bumped into him.

Wardlaw, who was on probation for a drug and weapon conviction at the time of the Oct. 5, 2008 shooting, could “have walked away, but he didn’t,” Weiner said.

Wardlaw was captured on a CTA surveillance camera shooting at the bus after he exited at 71st and Woodlawn.

During his trial in July, Wardlaw claimed he only fired his weapon because the man who crossed his path threatened him with a gun.

But Judge Diane G. Cannon curtly dismissed his excuses.

“Someone accidentally brushed your arm and according to you, he has to die,” the judge said.

“If that was the norm … as a person who takes mass transit, I can attest that we’d all be dead.”

Jackson refused comment following the hearing but did say she was glad the sentencing was over.

Blair Holt, another Julian High School student and the son of a police officer, was killed on a CTA bus when a reputed gang member opened fire on May 10, 2007.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)