A 20-year-old Rock Island woman was sentenced Friday to serve 22 years in prison for her role in the fatal stabbing of a 14-year-old girl.
But the slain teen’s father says justice has not been served.
Jimena Jinez appeared Friday in Rock Island County Court after she waived a jury trial and pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder. A second charge of mob action was dismissed earlier.
Lyric D. Stewart, 14, of Rock Island, was stabbed to death Dec. 30, 2020, during a fight in the 1200 block of 11th Street.
Relatives and friends of Stewart – including her father, Tony Stewart, who has spoken to journalists and has attended rallies for justice for his daughter – attended the sentencing. So many of Stewart’s family and friends attended that some watched the proceedings on a video screen in another room.
Several people were there in support of Jinez, too, and that group of people stayed separate from Stewart’s family and friends. Five deputies were present during the hearing.
Jinez also was sentenced to three years of mandatory supervised release after she serves her sentence, the judge said.
Members of Stewart’s family read two victim-impact statements that included strong language. A family member read Tony Stewart’s statement on his behalf. It was directed at Jinez, and said in part “You deserve nothing but pain and death.”
A father speaks out
Tony Stewart spoke with Local 4 News Friday evening.
The sentence, he said, “was a really big disappointment to me and my family. She’ll be out when she’s 38 years old. That’s still young. I just don’t understand where the justice is here.”
“Hopefully a lot of us will be able to go forward. I don’t really know what else I can do. I’m mentally and physically drained. It’s like fighting a never-ending battle.
“From the beginning, it’s been nothing but broken promises and deception throughout the justice system to get me to cooperate with them. I did everything they asked.” The sentence “feels like a slap in the face,” he said. Still, “My hat’s off to the prosecutor. He fought. He did everything he promised me he was going to do on his end.”
Stewart will continue to keep his daughter’s memory alive.
“Every year, at least once or twice a year, I will do something in memory of her,” said Stewart, who remains in close contact with Lyric’s friends.
“I’m very thankful for the support I’ve had,” said Stewart, who is in contact with people all over the world who have followed the case, some of who have been in the courtroom.
Meanwhile, he wants to help others whose lives have been affected by violence. “When things like these happen to other people, I want to reach out to their parents. I’ll do what I can to help them,” he said.
“Nobody’s family deserves to go through what my family and I have been going through the last two years,” Stewart said. “It wouldn’t have been so bad if we hadn’t been misled,” he said. “It’s really heartbreaking.”
He has one word about whether he can forgive Jinez: “Never.”
Stewart plans to continue to maintain the “Justice for Lyric” Facebook page.
The incident in 2020
Jimena Jinez, then 18, also of Rock Island, was arrested in the early morning of Dec. 31, 2020, and charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death. Ever since, she has been held in Rock Island County Jail on $1.5 million cash-only bond, according to court records.
Police allege Jinez was called to a house by two younger sisters who went there to purchase marijuana. When they arrived, Lyric was there. Police said Lyric and the sisters, who are both minors, previously had issues with one another. Investigators said those in the home were encouraging a fist fight between the sisters and Lyric. That is when they called Jinez, police say.
When Jinez arrived, she and Lyric started fighting. The fight was recorded on cell phones by witnesses there, according to police.
The fight escalated, and Jinez fatally stabbed Lyric once in the chest. She died the next day from the injury at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, police say.