MILWAUKEE — The man who killed Marquette Business School dean Joe Daniels nearly two years ago pleaded guilty Wednesday to operating a vehicle with a suspended license causing Daniels’ death.
This comes after prosecutors agreed to a plea deal which dismisses a separate felony charge that is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
The felony charge that 22-year-old Jordan Jones pleaded guilty to comes with a maximum sentence of three years behind bars followed by three years of supervision. While Daniels’ wife doesn’t believe that’s enough, she’s satisfied in hearing Jones takes ownership.
It’s the one word Lora Daniels has been waiting to hear for more than 20 months.
“What is your plea in knowingly operating a motor vehicle while suspended causing death?” asked Milwaukee County Judge Glenn Yamahiro. “Guilty,” Jones responded.
With the guilty plea, Jones will not stand trial for killing Daniels in a crash. Daniels was walking across West Wisconsin Avenue near Marquette’s campus on a February night in 2020 when he was fatally struck by a car.
Court documents alleged that Jones and his girlfriend swapped seats after the wreck and neglected to render aid to Daniels. While on scene, Jones’ girlfriend told police she was driving, but three days later she changed her story, telling investigators Jones was in fact behind the wheel. Jones allegedly told her she needed to lie because he didn’t have a driver’s license.
“It felt good to hear him own it, but what I will say is that this has just been a tragedy all the way around,” Lora said.
Lora faced Jones for the first time in court Wednesday when he admitted to driving at the time of the crash. A moment that came with heartbreak and devastation for Lora’s family and the Marquette community.
“I lost the most important person in my life,” Lora said. “Nobody wins and I have to live with all of that.”
Jones was initially charged with two felonies, hit and run causing death and operating a motor vehicle while suspended causing death. Prosecutors agreed to drop the first charge in exchange for a guilty plea to the lesser charge.
Instead of potentially facing up to 25 years behind bars, Jones now faces a max of three years in prison. Lora says the district attorney’s office was concerned a jury would struggle to unanimously convict Jones on the hit and run charge since he technically did not leave the scene.
“I did not want this to continue on and on, and for the Band-Aid to get ripped off every time we had to come for a hearing,” Lora said.
While Lora isn’t satisfied with the punishment, she’s ready for this chapter to close and to move on with the grieving process.
“I will grieve the rest of my life, but at least this portion of it can be set aside and I can figure out a way to move forward,” she said.
Jones is scheduled to be sentenced in February.