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Sentencing pushed back for JaNay Jackson killer

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Updated: 10/29/2013 8:34 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Sentencing for the Jacksonville man who admitted to crashing into 17-year-old JaNay Jackson's bedroom was pushed back after hours of testimony and debate Tuesday.

Ismet Sijamhodzic pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide.

Late Tuesday, JaNay's father read a letter to the court, repeatedly breaking down in tears.

"As a father, I'm supposed to protect my family," said Gerald Jackson. "Because of negligence, I wasn't given that right."

"JaNay's death is like an itch on my back that I'll never be able to scratch," said JaNay's brother, Talbert Jackson.

The investigation revealed the defendant ran a stop sign at the intersection of Kennerly and Barns roads and had Xanax and marijuana in his system.

Testimony on behalf of the defendant argued that Sijamhodzic was told the Xanax was actually a legal painkiller.

Sijamhodzic has denied smoking marijuana.

Family and friends of both the defendant and the former Wolfson High School student were in attendance at the sentencing hearing.

The defendant became emotional when he addressed the court, apologizing to JaNay's family.

"My family has also been ruined, and we will never be the same," said Sijamhodzic.

Judge Suzanne Bass heard from two health experts Tuesday morning who suggested the defendant should continue seeking help from a mental health professional.

Testimony revealed Sijamhodzic suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

An addiction specialist who spent weeks with the defendant following the deadly crash said his mental health issues stem from being held in a Bosnian concentration camp for 11 months in the early 1990s.

Sarah Flynn, a mitigation specialist, detailed brutal beatings and mental abuse that the defendant suffered during his time in the concentration camp.

While on the stand, Flynn said Sijamhodzic has repeatedly expressed remorse for the Jackson family and doesn't remember being involved in the deadly crash.
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