Driver gets 12 years in prison for crash that killed sleeping Jacksonville teen

The man who drove his van into a Jacksonville home and killed a sleeping 17-year-old was sentenced this month to 12 years in state prison. Ismet Sijamhodzic ran a stop sign and his car left the road, driving onto the lawn and through the front bedroom of the Southside Jacksonville home, according to a report published on News4Jax. The 52-year-old man had a marijuana and prescription medication used to treat depression in his system at the time of the crash, the television station reported. Sijamhodzic pleaded guilty earlier this year to vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison. Instead of seeking the maximum, prosecutors asked for a 12-year sentence because Sijamhodzic did not have a criminal record and because the family of the victim was in agreement that 12 years was a sufficient amount of time in prison.

Vehicular homicide is a Jacksonville Traffic Charge in which the state must prove someone was killed and the death was “caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another,” according to Florida law. In this Jacksonville Traffic Case, Sijamhodzic went right through a stop sign and hit the home with enough speed and force that the van went through the front of the home and into the teen’s bedroom. While there was no intent to harm her, there doesn’t need to be one in this Jacksonville Traffic Case. There only needs to be evidence that the person was driving recklessly and, Sijamhodzic and his defense team must have felt there was enough there in this Jacksonville Traffic Case that it was worth taking a deal and resolving the case. In many similar cases, the judge will hold a sentencing hearing to hear from both sides where they state their case and desired sentence. Often, the judge will then set a date for a couple of weeks following the hearing to announce the sentence.

Sijamhodzic says he still does not remember the crash. He told police he bought a Xanax from his niece and took it that day, but he thought it was a painkiller. The state chose to charge him with vehicular homicide instead of DUI manslaughter, likely because running the stop sign provided obvious proof needed in the case. Had prosecutors chose DUI manslaughter, they would have to prove that Sijamhodzic was impaired at the time of the crash, which is more difficult with drugs that can stay in your system for several days. Plus, DUI manslaughter has the same maximum sentence as vehicular homicide, so prosecutors can pick and choose which one best aligns with the fact of their case.
Our Jacksonville Traffic Attorney represents everyone from people trying to avoid points on their license after a speeding ticket to vehicular homicide.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Duval County Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.