Trial underway for former WMU basketball player charged with murder

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by Michael Krafcik | Newschannel 3

Trial underway for former WMU basketball player charged with murder.

Testimony is underway in the murder trial of a 19-year-old Western Michigan University student.

Former Western Michigan University basketball player Joeviair Kennedy is charged with killing and robbing Jacob Jones, 19, inside his apartment near campus in December 2016. His alleged accomplice Jordan Waire was convicted of the crimes in May.

Tara Workman, Jones’s mother broke down on the stand as the autopsy photos of her son were shown in court on Wednesday. Jones died instantly from a gunshot wound.

“He always had a smile on his face,” Workman said.

During opening statements, Kalamazoo County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Reisterer argued that both Kennedy and Waire planned to rob Jones the night he was killed.

“They went to SoHo Apartments and executed Jacob Jones,” said Reisterer.

Reisterer said Kennedy said under oath that he had texted Jones asking to buy three grams of marijuana and then told him they needed more like an ounce.

He said Kennedy originally planned to be the driver while Waire went inside to do the robbery, but decided to accompany Waire inside when they realized there were more people at the apartment.

Four of Jones’s friends were playing video games. They said on the stand they watched Waire and Kennedy burst into Jones’ apartment at SoHo apartments on Howard Street after 10 p.m. Dec. 8, 2016, demanding marijuana and money.

Brendan Sturgill, one of the friends, took the stand on Wednesday.

“Two Individuals broke into him. One with a red bandana, one being tall with a hoodie, essentially trying to conceal their faces.

“He put his hands up in the motion of surrendering,” said Sturgill.

Sturgill testified Waire shot Jones within seconds of entering the apartment. A .40-caliber bullet was removed from Jones’ body.

Kennedy’s attorney Eusebio Solis argued, “The intent was for him to pistol whip him and, by accident, the gun went off. When he entered the apartment, his intent was never to kill. That was never discussed.”

The prosecution testified the two planned to rob him after Kennedy texted Jones saying he needed to buy three grams of marijuana.

Reisterer said, “This isn’t a mastermind crime. This is a tragic crime over three grams of marijuana. Senseless. Tragic.”

On Tuesday, the prosecution offered Kennedy a deal to serve 22 years in prison to pled guilty to second-degree murder and a felony firearm charge. Kennedy initially said no.

“We had brought the victim’s family in from 2.5 hours away because if that offer was going to be accepted, they wanted to be here to watch them utter those words,” Reisterer said.

But on Wednesday, Kennedy changed his mind and said he would accept the deal, however since jury selection was underway, the prosecution took it off the table.

“I spoke to my client, he said he was willing to take that offer, but I was told it was withdrawn,” Solis told Judge Paul Bridennstine.

The trial will resume Thursday.

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