KALAMAZOO, Mich. — As soon as Tara Workman heard the guilty verdict, she sobbed. She held tissue to her mouth with one hand and used the other to hold her daughter. Workman was grateful for the verdict, she said. She knew that’s what her son Jacob Jones would have wanted.
“That’s what he deserved,” Workman said during an interview after court. “Now no other family is going to have to go through that.”
According to police, Jones was killed in December 2016 when Jordan Waire shot him during a drug deal. Police said that Waire and an accomplice Joeviair Kennedy — who played basketball at Western Michigan University — broke into Jones' SoHo apartment near campus in attempt to buy weed. Seconds after entering, Waire shot and killed Jones, a WMU student, and stole the phones of the other people in the apartment.
“Three weeks short of Christmas 2016, he was executed,” assistant prosector Michael Reisterer said to the jury during closing arguments. “Executed without reason, without rhyme, without conscious.”
Reisterer told the jury that he was able to show that Waire was the gunman due mainly to Kennedy’s testimony. Kennedy told detectives during a taped interview that before the crime took place, Waire purchased ammunition.
“Jordan Waire left Meijer with the bullets and picked up Joeviair,” said Reisterer. “Again we would not have known this information if Joeviair hadn’t told us.”
Reisterer showed the jury the receipt from that purchase and a surveillance picture of Waire leaving the store. He also spoke of the events that proceeded: Waire and Kennedy driving to SoHo, then driving to another apartment to disguise themselves with hoodies and a red bandana, then making a phone call to Jones about purchasing the weed and then heading to his place. He said all of this was confirmed when they looked at Kennedy’s phone.
“Now we have the documentation to support what Kennedy said,” Reisterer said. “Irrefutable proof that he and Jordan Waire worked together at the time they executed Jacob.”
Waire’s defense attorney Michael Oakes immediately refuted Kennedy's testimony during his closing arguments. He told the jury that the testimony, which Kennedy did for police and not in front of a jury, was full of “truth and lies for a reason.”
“He’s told you that he’s a Blood gang member,” Oakes said. “He has informed you that he did these crimes and he was able to eventually give them a name of someone who they had started getting tips on.”
Oakes talked about the police interviewing a few persons of interest when "tips" starting coming in about Waire. He asked the jury to consider whether Kennedy was with a fellow gang member when the shooting took place or the person he was with at Meijer. However he said “we don’t know" and that the evidence doesn't make sense.
“The prosecution has not proved without reasonable doubt that Jordan Waire was with Kennedy in this apartment,” said Oakes. “Kennedy has reasons to lie.”
Oakes also stated that there's no physical evidence connecting Waire to the crime. He stated that the detectives found the red bandana that was used in the armed robbery but questioned who it belonged to.
“You heard the detective say ‘yeah we recovered the red bandana, the red bandana the individual was wearing over their face, talking, breathing, yelling through, all kind of bodily fluids on this red bandana,'" he said reciting the detective's testimony. "'No, we didn’t bother doing any DNA testing. We felt we had other evidence.’"
That other evidence was Kennedy's testimony, which the assistant prosecutor stated was reliable in his rebuttal. The jury then deliberated for two and half hours before finding Jordan Waire guilty of all charges, including murder and armed robbery. Waire sat motionless as the verdict was read. Jones' family cried.
Workman said the verdict does not bring her closure but is a small step in moving forward.
"It helps me let him be at peace," she said.