Ignoring tragic fate of Cynthia Barnes would be real mistake

SHARE Ignoring tragic fate of Cynthia Barnes would be real mistake

A Cook County judge found Daniel Neasom guilty Friday of the murder of Cynthia Barnes, the homeless woman whose violent death I started telling you about three years ago.

Associate Judge James Linn said the only logical conclusion to draw from the evidence was that it was Neasom who sent Barnes crashing head first through his third-floor apartment window to the sidewalk below in July 2011.

In the end, Neasom’s lawyer elected not to raise a self-defense claim to allow for a reduced charge, arguing there was no way of knowing what happened inside the apartment before the prostitute’s death.

Linn, though, said he thought it likely their confrontation resulted from a dispute over missing crack cocaine, an argument raised in opening statements by the defense but never followed up.

Some may wonder why I always bring up that Barnes was homeless and a prostitute and drug addict, or that she’d twice been to prison for serious crimes.

Well, I guess that’s always been the point.

Barnes, who died just short of her 40th birthday, is the type of person typically regarded as a throwaway by our society, someone whose life is seen as less worthy because of the mistakes she made.

There are many more women like her living under similar circumstances in our city, vulnerable to the violence of the streets and the sex trade, most of them just trying to survive.

Invisible in life, their deaths are mostly ignored, too. In drawing attention to Barnes, I hoped to better understand for myself who she was and how she came to be in that situation — and to help you see her, too.

“She was,” as a spectator in the courtroom helpfully reminded me Friday, “somebody’s daughter.”


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