Family of woman believed murdered blasts judge after not-guilty verdict

Authorities said 65-year-old Daisy Hayes was murdered in 2018 at her Woodlawn apartment by her ex-boyfriend, who carried her body away in a suitcase — but Judge Diana Kenworthy acquitted him last week.

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Shulonda Dansberry, in beige, attends a gathering Tuesday outside the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in the Little Village neighborhood with family, friends, and supporters of 65-year-old Daisy Hayes to express their outrage with Cook County Judge Diana Kenworthy, who found Hayes’ ex-boyfriend not guilty of her murder last week.

Family, friends and supporters of 65-year-old Daisy Hayes held a press conference Tuesday to express their outrage with Cook County Judge Diana Kenworthy, who found Hayes’ ex-boyfriend not guilty of her murder last week.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Family of a woman believed to have been murdered more than three years ago in her Woodlawn apartment say they were denied justice when a Cook County judge found the man charged with killing her not guilty last week.

Holding signs outside the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Tuesday, the family said they are now seeking to hold Circuit Court Judge Diana Kenworthy accountable for her ruling by encouraging voters to throw her off the bench when she is next up for retention.

They will have to wait until 2026 for the next time Kenworthy appears on a ballot.

In her not guilty ruling Friday, Kenworthy cited a lack of evidence against Jimmy Jackson, 75, who was charged in September 2018 with killing his on-again, off-again girlfriend Daisy Hayes.

“We sat through the whole trial, everyone in the courtroom was shocked ... we did not get the outcome that we were supposed to,” Loinda Jones, Haye’s niece said Tuesday.

The 65-year-old woman’s body was never found.

Daisy Hayes

Daisy Hayes

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During Jackson’s bond hearing, prosecutors said they believed Hayes’ body was carried off and buried at an Indiana landfill that holds 400 tons of refuse.

Prosecutors said Hayes was last seen going into her apartment on May 1 that year at the Kendall Campbell Apartments, one of the Chicago Housing Authority’s buildings for seniors — she was never seen leaving. A missing person’s alert for Hayes was issued two weeks later.

Her daughter, Teresa Smith, told the Sun-Times she became concerned when her mother failed to return numerous phone calls and then failed to call her on Mother’s Day.

Prosecutors relied heavily on surveillance footage from Haye’s apartment building to get Jackson held without bond while he awaited trial. Jackson, who also lived in the building, was recorded entering Hayes’ apartment 10 minutes after she arrived home the last time she was seen. Cameras later recorded Jackson leaving his own apartment with a large suitcase, which prosecutors said he held easily with one hand.

He was later recorded leaving her apartment again, struggling to drag the bulging suitcase to an elevator, which he took through the building’s lobby to a dumpster and then covered with trash, prosecutors said.

A garbage truck arrived later that day to empty the dumpster.

The Rev. Robin Hood points to a picture of Cook County Judge Diana Kenworthy on Tuesday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse as family and friends of Daisy Hayes, a 65-year-old woman believed to have been murdered in 2018, expressed their frustration with Kenworthy after the judge found the man accused of killing Hayes not guilty last week.

The Rev. Robin Hood points to a picture of Cook County Judge Diana Kenworthy on Tuesday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse as family and friends of Daisy Hayes, a 65-year-old woman believed to have been murdered in 2018, expressed their frustration with Kenworthy after the judge found the man accused of killing Hayes not guilty last week.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Jackson was arrested in Memphis, Tenn. that fall on a charge of first-degree murder.

A public defender appointed to represent Jackson at his bond hearing argued that without a body, Hayes’ cause of death couldn’t be known.

Judge Mary Marubio ordered Jackson held without bail and he remained in custody at the Cook County Jail until officials said he was released early Saturday.

Jackson was also accused of murder in 1985, but the charges were later dropped, according to court records.

Attempts to reach Jackson for comment were unsuccessful.

Hayes’ family said Tuesday they were stunned that Kenworthy didn’t think the video of Jackson carrying the suitcase provided enough evidence to convict him.

Jackson was seen going in and out of Hayes’ apartment “numerous times with a suitcase, with cleaning supplies, with mops,” her daughter said. “So of course there was no physical evidence or sign of a struggle because he had time to clean up everything he had done.”

“I need to know what more Diana Kenworthy needs to see that was a in plain view,” Smith added.

Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere Founder Rev. Robin Hood speaks Tuesday outside the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere Founder Rev. Robin Hood speaks Tuesday outside the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The family connected Hayes’ to other missing and murdered women of color in Chicago, whose cases they said don’t get enough attention from authorities.

“This would not be done in a white community,” the Rev. Robin Hood, a community activist and founding member of Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere, said at the gathering. “Only in Chicago, and cities like Chicago, this is done when it comes to Black and brown women.”

Hood said the family would not stop fighting for justice for Hayes and said the first step was to “get rid of judges like” Kenworthy.

“And the way we’re gonna do this is vote,” Hood said. “The second thing we’re gonna do is hold all our public officials accountable.”

“We gonna educate our faith-based leaders and tell them, that until this is answered, don’t support these people,” Hood said.

Contributing: AP

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