MILWAUKEE - A Milwaukee County judge sentenced Jordan Jones on Thursday, March 17 to two-and-a-half years prison and another two years of extended supervision in the hit-and-run crash that killed Marquette University Dean Joe Daniels in February 2020.
Jones pleaded guilty in October 2021 to a charge of "knowingly operating while suspended (cause death)." A second charge of hit-and-run resulting in death was dismissed and read into the court record for the purposes of sentencing.
Prior to the sentence being handed down, Lora Daniels, Joe's widow, spoke to the court. She said there is a gaping hole in their family since her husband's death – and Jones' actions from that February 2020 night show he has no remorse.
"While my husband lay dead in the street on that cold February night, the defendant and his girlfriend were working on the lie that they would tell police," Lora Daniels told the court. "The defendant did whatever he could to save himself. He convinced his girlfriend to take the fall for the death of my husband. Your Honor, I believe the defendant is a danger to public safety. He's shown zero regard for the law, the probationary restrictions of sobriety, and seems to lack the ability to adhere to constraints that court-ordered supervision imposes."
"I'd like to apologize to the Daniels family, you know, for, like they said, this is a senseless act," Jones told the court. "I couldn't even imagine the pain and the countless nights probably they stayed up thinking about what could've, what if, and different outcomes."
In the end, Judge Glenn Yamahiro had the final say.
"The fact that this happened while he was on supervision, ya know, it just defies logic that people can think they're going to open up a car dealership and constantly go to the car auction and get vehicles and not get a license. I can't think of too many things more ignorant than that," the judge said. "When you get pulled over for doing 90 miles an hour while you're out on bail for a case in which your driving killed somebody – that's kind of a red flag that you don't quite get it yet."
Lora Daniels shared some thoughts for Jordan Jones.
"Take this time, and better yourself. Take this time. Own your mistakes. And better yourself. You don’t have to continue like this," Daniels said. "I’m hoping now that we can stop talking about the actual death of my husband and start talking about the life of my husband."
Criminal complaint details
The criminal complaint against Jones says multiple surveillance cameras in the area captured the crash that happened at 10th and Wisconsin in February 2020.
The complaint indicates officers at the scene of the crash located the suspect vehicle about 300 feet from where the collision occurred. One officer noted "significant damage to the passenger side of the hood and windshield." He could also "smell a strong odor of burnt marijuana coming from the hole" in the windshield.
Three days after the incident, a woman who had been arrested after she told officers she was the driver of the striking vehicle "wished to make a full statement to officers regarding exactly what happened the evening of the crash." The woman told police, with her attorney present, that she was not driving the striking vehicle but instead had been using her cellphone and not paying attention while Jones drove. She said a short time after exiting the freeway, "there was a bang and glass breaking."
The complaint says "Jones pulled the car over and told (the woman) she needed to switch seats with him because she had a driver's license." The pair exited the vehicle and the woman "called 911 but hung up after she got transferred by the operator." The woman told police she knew Jones "was on probation and that he did not have a driver's license." The woman also stated that "Jones told the police that she was driving and she did too, but she was scared and things got out of control and she didn't know what to do," the complaint says.
On Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, investigators conducted a follow-up interview with Jordan Jones at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility. He was in custody and handcuffed during the interview. During this interview, Jones continued to maintain that the woman was driving. When the questioning officer told Jones he didn't think the woman was the driver of the car, the complaint says Jones "appeared nervous and began taking deep breaths." Jones then replied, "I'm not supposed to be driving, I don't have a license." Jones stated "this was a very sticky situation for him because he is a felon." He then inferred that police "wanted him." The questioning officer then told Jones "whoever was actually driving should be held responsible for being the driver." Jones replied with, "but it's an accident."
Jones was originally scheduled to be sentenced last month. But it was rescheduled because online court records show Jones failed to comply with two appointments to complete a pre-sentence investigation.