Man charged with murder of Joliet mom left the city in Lyft ride, witnesses say

Trial begins over Maya Smith slaying

Jermaine Mandley

A man charged with killing a woman Jan. 7 in Joliet received a Lyft ride to Bolingbrook just as officers were responding to the crime scene.

Jermaine Mandley, 47, of Bolingbrook is on trial this week on charges he shot and killed Maya Smith, 24, of Joliet and endangered the life of her 3-year-old daughter, both of whom were found by police inside of a vehicle in an alley near South Side Civic Club, 1214 Oakland Avenue. The child was safe, but Smith was dead from multiple gunshot wounds.

On Tuesday, a jury heard testimony from a police officer about his discovery of Smith’s body, as well as testimony from Mandley’s colleagues on his odd behavior during his visit with them at a residence not too far from the shooting.

The jury also viewed video from the South Side Civic Club that prosecutors said showed Mandley exiting the vehicle, shooting Smith and running down the alley.

On the evening of Jan. 7, Mandley joined his former co-worker, David Ervins, Ervins’ girlfriend, Charlean Garrison, and Ervins’ friend, Carse Brown, to watch a fight on TV at Ervins’ Ingalls Avenue residence. The residence is next to the alley that leads to the South Side Civic Club.

After Mandley claimed to the group that his phone was broken, Garrison used her phone to order him a Lyft ride to his home in Bolingbrook. None of them knew he was a suspect in Smith’s murder.

When Cameron Hope, the Lyft driver, arrived at Ingalls Avenue, officers were already on the scene after the discovery of Smith’s body. On Tuesday, prosecutors played dashcam video from Hope’s vehicle that showed a concern look on his face as he saw the police squad vehicles in the area.

After picking up Mandley, Hope asked him, “It’s got nothing to do with you?”

“Hell nah,” Mandley said.

Smith’s body was first discovered by Joliet Police Officer Jack Desiderio in the early morning hours of Jan. 8.

Desiderio said he responded to a call of a vehicle in the alley and saw it had “fogged up” windows. He said when he looked inside, he saw Smith with a gunshot wound to her stomach and multiple gunshot wounds to the head.

Desiderio said he also saw Smith’s daughter in the backseat of the vehicle, but she did not respond when he used his baton to knock on the window. He said after he broke one of the windows to retrieve the child, she “started crying.” The child was later taken to a hospital.

Prosecutors showed a video that revealed Smith’s body was slumped in the driver seat. Her legs were lying on the front passenger seat. Beneath her feet – on the front passenger floor – were five spent shell casings from a firearm. Overall, police discovered at least eight shell casings inside the vehicle.

The video from the South Side Civic Club showed a vehicle driving through the alley before it stops. After a while, one of its rear tail lights appears to flash. Then, a man is seen getting out of the front passenger side of the vehicle. Flashes of light emit from inside the vehicle. The man jogs down the alley, stops, runs back to the vehicle, looks inside and then runs away one more time.

When Mandley arrived at the Ingalls Avenue residence, Ring doorbell video showed him quickly knocking on the door and breathing heavily.

Ervins testified Tuesday that Mandley’s manner of knocking was unusual and he appeared nervous. Garrison testified that Mandley was “frantic” and she wondered if someone had been chasing him.

Ervins said he knew Mandley always carries a pistol and he instructed him to leave his gun behind if he was going with Brown to the liquor store. After Mandley left his gun behind, Brown and him went to the liquor store to buy alcohol. Brown testified when the two came back, Mandley quickly drank a six pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

When it was time for everyone to go home, Garrison said she had to order Mandley a Lyft ride because he claimed his phone was broken. When the Lyft driver arrived, she said she noticed police squad vehicles were in the neighborhood and that Mandley was “very nervous.”

“He was just nervous. He didn’t want to go outside,” Garrison said.

Mandley’s jury trial will resume Wednesday with more testimony from state witnesses.

A Joliet police squad vehicle in an alley between Clement Street and Oakland Avenue. Police are investigating the fatal shooting of a 24-year-old woman on Jan. 8, 2023.