JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of a Jacksonville teenager, who was severely injured when he was hit by a drug dealer’s car, is lashing out at the federal law enforcement, including the courts.
Daniel Sarama's loved ones are angry, saying the feds aren't pursuing that part of the government's case.
Next month, a judge will sentence Marion Walker for drug trafficking after he agreed to a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
During a police investigation in May, authorities said Walker sped off from a traffic stop on Interstate 295 and drove to 103rd Street, where he hit 17-year-old Daniel, who was walking from Westside High School to work. In the plea deal, a drug ring was laid out, but there was no mention of the accident.
"This is an innocent child walking down the road in a botched federal drug sting," Charles Sarama, Daniel's father, told News4Jax on Wednesday. "And they are pretending it just never happened."
The family is asking why the plea deal reached with prosecutors does not mention the victim, and the feds are not talking.
Even though the dealer who admitted to the drug crimes could spend life in jail, the family says there is still no justice.
Daniel was not ready to talk on camera Wednesday, but he is getting better. His father said he will need medical attention for the rest of his life.
"We want justice for Daniel," Sarama said. "We want the guy charged with at least child endangerment. They basically said, 'Tough.' They are going to do what they want."
The case began in state court, but local charges were dropped, and the feds took over. Court records show, detectives had been watching Walker, who had been convicted before for selling cocaine, for years.
All of that is spelled out in the plea deal, but there is no mention of Daniel’s accident. That's what angers his dad.
"So you are saying, if you are a major drug dealer you can run people over and cut a deal and don’t get punished for it?" Sarama said. "That is a child. He’s 17 years old. He’s got the fight for the rest of his life through these conditions that he’s got."
Court officials say they could actually get a longer sentence taking this route.
"He is getting convicted on the drug charges. It has nothing to do with the accident when he ran Daniel over," Sarama said. "They’re basically pretending it never happened."
The case started in state court before moving to federal court. State Attorney Melissa Nelson's office said it reached out to the family to see whether a victim's service fund could help offset some medical costs, which the family says has been a problem.
When asked whether child endangerment charges could be filed, Nelson's office said it would get back to News4Jax about that.
Federal prosecutors said the Sarama family will have a chance address the court during the sentencing hearing on Jan. 24.