Streamwood man sentenced to 52 years in prison for murder of ‘best friend’

A 29-year-old Streamwood man convicted in April of fatally shooting a man he described as his best friend was sentenced Monday to 52 years in prison.

Salvatore Scardino claimed at trial he was defending himself and his property when he killed 31-year-old Kwemi Hardwick on April 22, 2022, after the two men spent the evening at a Bartlett sports bar eating, drinking and playing video slots.

In sentencing Scardino to seven years above the minimum, Cook County Judge Joseph Cataldo referenced Scardino’s lack of significant criminal background and a “somewhat impressive litany” of letters from Cook County jail officers attesting to his work ethic and character.

The judge also noted letters from Scardino’s family and proof of educational programming he’s completed while in behind bars since his 2022 arrest.

“That is definitely something to be considered,” Cataldo said. “But we can’t lose sight of the fact that what we have here is a situation of a gun in the wrong hands at the wrong time.

“This could have been a simple argument between friends, a minor scuffle at best,” he added.

Instead, Hardwick’s live was cut tragically short “over what amounts to nonsense, when you look back at it now,” Cataldo said, adding “senseless violence can’t be ignored.”

Scardino, who received credit for 780 days already in custody, must serve the entire sentence before he’s eligible for parole.

Trial testimony indicated the friends argued after Hardwick won $1,000 on a video slot machine. A bartender and friend of the two men testified she heard them “intensely talking” and that a short time later she watched an “amped up” Scarabino pace outside the bar. Hardwick drove away, leaving Scardino behind, authorities said.

Hardwick later showed up later at Scardino’s home and after more arguing, prosecutors said, Scardino shot him multiple times in the back and head.

The defense claimed Hardwick first choked Scardino and pushed him onto the couch and took a bottle of cologne.

Hardwick’s loss is “far reaching and deeply felt,” his sister, Karima Hardwick, said Monday. Her four, heartbroken children adored their uncle, who provided them the essentials of “love, support and security,” she added.

Hardwick’s mother, Carma Hardwick, described her son as a sincere, hardworking and sentimental man who possessed a passion for life, a huge heart and a smile that lit up a room.

“Words are too weak to define what Kwemi meant to us,” she wrote to the court. “No sunlight, no peace, no heartbeat, no joy, that is what we feel without Kwemi.”

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