Former Western Michigan basketball player, Joeviair Kennedy, was sentenced this week to 17 years in prison for an armed robbery that led to the death of another WMU student.
In June, Kennedy was found guilty of armed robbery and felony firearm. He received a 17.5-year to 40-year sentence for the former and a 2-year sentence for the latter.
He received credit for the 19 months he’s already served in jail for the firearm sentence. Kennedy was also facing charges of murder, and a second felony firearm charge, but was found not guilty of both.
Investigators say Kennedy and his co-defendant, Jordan Waire, set up a robbery attempt on Jacob Jones at Jones’ off-campus apartment in December 2016.
Kennedy asked to buy three grams of marijuana from Jones and then upped the amount requested. Minutes later, Kennedy and Waire burst into Jones’ apartment, where Waire hit Jones in the face with his gun.
The gun then went off during the hit and fired a bullet into Jones’ face, which killed him. Waire has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Kennedy and Jones were friends before the shooting, and Jones’ mother said that they even occasionally played basketball together.
“He had the face of a friend of Jacob,” Jones’ mother said of Kennedy. “Jacob was a good person and he trusted him and he let him into his life and into his house, and all Kennedy was doing was casing out the place.”
Jones had four other friends in the apartment at the time of the shooting, and Kalamazoo County Circuit Court Judge Paul J. Bridenstine said those friends are struggling to come to terms with what they witnessed.
“The loss to Jacob Jones’ family and friends is enormous,” Bridenstine said while calling the incident “senseless, cowardly and irrational.”
Kennedy was remorseful about what happened that night and apologized in court to Jones’ loved ones.
“With one bad mistake I destroyed not only my life but the lives of many others,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy was a redshirt freshman on Western Michigan’s basketball team at the time of the shooting. He played in eight games for the Broncos and scored 27 points.
Both Kennedy and Waire attended Muskegon High School in Michigan, where they were teammates with current NBA player Deyonta Davis.
Kennedy was a multi-sport athlete while in high school and even had scholarship offers in football. He chose Western Michigan over basketball offers from Northern Illinois, UIC and Houston Baptist, as well as a football offer from Ferris State.
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