Joseph Hazley maintained his innocence inside a Cook County courtroom Tuesday (June 4) alleging he was the victim of a failed system.
“I feel like no matter what I do or how hard I try, no matter how good my intentions are, everything just seems to take a turn for the worst,” Hazley said. “Like I’m standing in quicksand. The more I try, the more I sink.”
The 35-year-old was sentenced to 32 years in prison for his part in the brutal killing of 16-year-old Desiree Robinson, who prosecutors say he lured and pimped to men for money. Hazley, who also had a fulltime legal job, reportedly pimped two other girls as well.
Hazley was not charged with Desiree’s death, but Tuesday’s hearing focused greatly on how much responsibility he had as her pimp.
“This court holds him responsible for anything that’s foreseeable,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Parente said. “To not hold him responsible (for the death), I think would be offensive.”
Desiree’s mother took the witness stand wearing the same soft pink dress she wore to her daughter’s funeral. During her emotional testimony, Yvonne Ambrose said Desiree’s death has been excruciating to deal with.
“I had to identify my baby’s body,” said Ambrose, her voice catching in her throat. “I had to sign her death certificate. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. … I would not rest until everyone was held accountable for their part in my baby’s murder.”
The Chicago man accused of killing Desiree, Antonio Rosales, is awaiting trial on first-degree murder and aggravated sexual assault.
Prosecutors say on Christmas Eve Hazley scheduled an appointment with Rosales in the south suburban community of Markham in 2016. He dropped the teen off and when she didn’t return, he found her body beaten and her throat slashed.
The Chicago Tribune reports after finding Desiree, Hazley deleted his photos of her off his laptop and threw her clothes and other belongings in the trash.
“Joseph Hazley sold my baby. My baby! As if she was a piece of clothing!” Ambrose told U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman on Tuesday. “Our ancestors fought hard to keep us free from the same slavery that Joseph Hazley put my baby in.”