The family of a woman who was allegedly murdered more than three years ago in her Woodlawn apartment say they were denied justice when a Cook County judge found the man accused of 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 decision by encouraging voters to remove her from the bench during of his next detention.
They will have to wait until 2026 for the next time Kenworthy appears on a ballot.
In his not guilty decision on Friday, Kenworthy cited a lack of evidence against Jimmy Jackson, 75, who was charged in September 2018 with killing his recurring girlfriend Daisy Hayes.
“We watched the whole trial, everyone in the courtroom was shocked…we didn’t get the outcome we were supposed to get,” Hayes’ niece Loinda Jones said on Tuesday.
The 65-year-old woman’s body was never found.
During Jackson’s bail hearing, prosecutors said they believe Hayes’ body was taken away and buried in an Indiana landfill containing 400 tons of trash.
Prosecutors said Hayes was last seen in her apartment on May 1 of that year at the Kendall Campbell Apartments, one of the Chicago Housing Authority’s seniors buildings – she was never seen go. A missing person alert for Hayes was issued two weeks later.
Her daughter, Teresa Smith, told The Sun-Times she became concerned when her mother didn’t answer numerous phone calls and then didn’t call her on Mother’s Day.
Prosecutors relied heavily on surveillance footage of the Haye building to hold Jackson without bail pending trial. Jackson, who also lived in the apartment building, was recorded entering Hayes’ apartment 10 minutes after she was last seen arriving home. Cameras then recorded Jackson leaving his own apartment with a large suitcase, which prosecutors said he was holding easily in one hand.
He was then recorded leaving his apartment again, struggling to drag the bulging suitcase to an elevator, which he took down the hall of the building to a dumpster, then covered in rubbish , prosecutors said.
A garbage truck arrived later that day to empty the dumpster.
Jackson was arrested in Memphis, Tennessee, on charges of first degree murder.
A court-appointed attorney appointed to represent Jackson at his bail hearing argued that without a body, Hayes’ cause of death could not be known.
Judge Mary Marubio ordered Jackson held without bond and he remained in custody at the Cook County Jail until officials announced his release early Saturday.
Jackson was also charged with 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 are stunned that Kenworthy does not believe the video of Jackson carrying the suitcase provides 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 signs of a struggle because he had time to clean up everything he had done.”
“I need to know what Diana Kenworthy needs more to see who was prominent,” Smith added.
The family has connected Hayes to other missing and murdered women of color in Chicago, whose cases they believe are not receiving enough attention from the authorities.
“It wouldn’t be done in a white community,” Reverend Robin Hood, a community activist and founding member of Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere, said at the rally. “Only in Chicago and cities like Chicago is this done when it comes to black and brown women.”
Hood said the family won’t stop fighting for justice for Hayes and said the first step is to “get rid of judges like” Kenworthy.
“And the way we’re going to do that is to vote,” Hood said. “The second thing we’re going to do is hold all of our officials accountable.”
“We’re going to educate our faith leaders and tell them that until that question is answered, don’t support these people,” Hood said.