More than two weeks after a Jacksonville teen was killed when a van drove into her bedroom, police have charged a 51-year-old man in her death. Ismet Sijamhodzic was arrested in Jacksonville and charged with vehicular homicide and was being held in the Duval County jail on a bond of $250,000, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He faces up to 15 years in prison on the Florida second-degree felony charge. Sijamhodzic ran a stop sign about 2:40 a.m. on an August morning and drove straight into the bedroom of the Wolfson High School student, trapping her between the van and a wall, according to the newspaper report. There were no signs that he tried to stop or steer the van to avoid the home, nor were there skid marks in the road near the home, the newspaper reported.
Sijamhodzic had marijuana in system as well Xanax, a prescription muscle relaxer and anti-anxiety drug, and told police he hadn’t slept for three days before the accident, according to the newspaper. In Florida, vehicular homicide that Sijamhodzic is charged with is a second-degree felony. In a case where someone leaves the scene or doesn’t render the aid he or she could have to help the victim, it becomes a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Sijamhodzic was injured in the crash and hospitalized, so the enhanced charge would not apply in his case. The drugs in his system aren’t likely to help him in terms of plea negotiations, nor are the 10 traffic tickets the newspaper reported he had received since 1996. Jacksonville traffic citations like these are not used in the sentencing guideline formula that is used by the court to determine a range for a sentence, but they are generally placed under consideration by prosecutors when they are determining what, if anything the state would offer in lieu of taking the case to trial.
Public opinion also plays a role, and the state may be unlikely to look like it is giving a favorable deal to someone who killed an innocent honor student while she was sleeping.
Yet there are still facts that are not known. Was the road wet that night? How exactly do police know he did not try to steer around something in the road? Sijamhodzic clearly has an uphill battle in this Jacksonville vehicular homicide case, but his lack of a serious criminal record could help reduce his sentence. He would have been wise, and may have, contacted a Jacksonville Traffic Crime Attorney immediately after released from the hospital. He had to know charges were coming and it is best in these cases when the defendant comes to police, with a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, instead of the police running the defendant down.
If you or a loved one needs a vehicular homicide attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County Criminal Defense Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.