GRIM MILESTONE

First Judge Killed in Chicago History by Gun Violence He Fought

Raymond Myles was shot to death outside his home Monday morning, in a seemingly random act of violence after a career spent locking up criminals behind massacres, the death of Jennifer Hudson’s family members, and more.

Circuit Court of Cook County

CHICAGO — A Cook County, Illinois judge who made a career out of punishing perpetrators of gun violence was shot multiple times and a woman wounded outside his home early Monday morning.

Associate Judge Raymond Myles, 66, was shot outside his home on the 9400 block of South Forest Avenue in the city’s West Chesterfield neighborhood. Myles died from his injuries, becoming the first Cook County judge in history to be murdered.

At a press conference Monday afternoon at police headquarters, Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Melissa Staples said Myles and his 52-year-old female companion were leaving their home to go workout when the incident happened at 4:50 a.m. The woman, who police would not identify, walked outside and got into a verbal altercation with a man before being shot in a leg.

"Upon hearing the commotion and the gunshot, Judge Myles exited his residence," Staples said. "(He) exchanged words with the offender before he was fatally shot multiple times."

The woman, who was able to call police and give a description of the offender, is expected to survive.

No items were taken from either victim or from the victims home police said, adding that they are investigating both that it was a random shooting and that Myles could have been an intended target. The only description the police offered of the suspect was that it was a black male.

While police were working all angles, the murder of a Cook County judge is new ground, even for gun-plagued Chicago. In the past, judges usually only made the news for wrong-doing and no Cook County judge has ever been murdered. In 2005, white supremacist Matthew Hale was sentenced to a 40-year federal prison term for soliciting an undercover FBI informant to kill Federal Judge Joan Lefkow, who presides over the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The FBI has issued a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Myles was involved in several high-profile cases through the years. He was the judge who ordered the murderer of three members of actress and singer Jennifer Hudson's family to be held without bond.

Hudson’s brother-in-law, William Balfour, entered the Hudson family house in Englewood at gunpoint and fatally shot Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, in the living room and Hudson's brother, Jason Hudson, 29, while he was still in bed. Her nephew, Julian King, 7, was shot to death as he lay behind the front seat of Jason Hudson's white Chevrolet Suburban and his body was discovered in the vehicle three days later.

Two suspects in the Brown's Chicken Massacre in Palatine appeared before Myles shortly after they were arrested in 2002. James Degorski and Juan Luna were both eventually convicted of killing seven people at a suburban restaurant in 1993. That case, unsolved for nearly a decade, resulted in life sentences for both Degorski and Luna.

And just two years ago the judge was attacked after getting into a fender bender on the South Side. The other driver punched the judge in the face breaking his nose.

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Myles's attacker, 22-year-old Deandre Hudson, was arrested 10 months later and is still awaiting trial.

Monday afternoon, police continued to investigate and had a portion of the 9400 block of Forest Avenue closed. Most of the homes on the block and nearby had well-manicured lawns and neighbors described it as a quiet neighborhood that is home to many judges, police officers and lawyers.

Janis Walker, 57, was caring for her 95-year-old mother on the 9300 block of Forest Avenue when she said she heard gunshots and called the police.

“I heard three distinct shots and called 911,” Walker said. Although she now lives in downstate Champaign where she works as a health prevention specialist, Walker said she was raised in the neighborhood and that her mother has lived on Forest Avenue for 60 years. “West Chesterfield was always a nice, middle class African-American neighborhood. There is a new element moving in and it’s not good.”

A mail carrier walking her route said that she has been delivering mail to Myles for 20 years had to hold back tears when she learned about the shooting, describing him as a “very kind man.”

Another man, a 72-year-old retired longshoreman who only wanted to go by his first name of Ron, said he’s lived on the 9300 block his entire life said Myles was a very unassuming man.

“I’ve seen him for years and never knew he was a judge.”

Whether or not the murder of Myles is proved to be a random act or a planned hit is still under investigation but one thing seems certain: In Chicago, no one is exempt from gun violence.