JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sentencing was delayed for a 19-year-old who admitted to shooting and killing Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office K-9 Fang in September 2018.
A judge was expected to sentence Jhamal Paskel -- who pleaded guilty to charges of killing a police dog, armed carjacking and two counts of kidnapping -- on Monday, but after hearing testimony, the judge delayed sentencing to later this month.
In court, JSO Officer Matt Herrera, Fang’s handler, explained how Sept. 30, 2018, changed his life forever.
Police said Paskel carjacked two women at a gas station on Lem Turner Road and then he made one drive as he held her at gunpoint. Since the car had an OnStar system, police were able to track the vehicle to Interstate 10 near Cecil Commerce Parkway, where they had OnStar shut off the engine.
Paskel got out and ran from officers and Fang was released to chase him. Evidence showed Paskel shot and killed Fang and kept running into the woods, but he was tracked down by another officer with his K-9.
“I hear two gunshots back to back, a yelp from my dog and then a third gunshot quickly after that,” Herrera testified Monday. “I called him (Fang) to me. He would always come. But this time he did not.”
Paskel asked for a second chance.
“All I ask today, your honor, is for a second shot at life,” he said in court Monday. “And I hope that everyone cand find it in their hearts to forgive me.”
Paskel’s mother said her son has struggled with mental illness, but there’s no excuse for his behavior.
“He is taking education serious again because he has gotten his diploma,” she said.
According to the state, Paskel’s mother tried on many occasions to help him, but now Paskel should be punished for his actions. The state is asking for a minimum of 35 years in prison.
“The defendant killed in cold blood. There are three separate shots,” said L.E. Hutton with the State Attorney’s Office.
The defense believes Paskel should only get 15 years in prison with rehabilitation.
“I don’t subscribe that this was so planned out,” said George Fallis, defense attorney for Paskel.
Sentencing will be at 9 a.m. Oct. 28.
In 2019, after an I-TEAM investigation into the sentencing guidelines for killing a K-9, the Florida Legislature passed a law to increase killing a dog or horse working with police or other first responders to a second-degree felony and raised the maximum sentence from five years to 15 years.
JSO has remembered Fang as helping keep everyone safe at special events and football games and had captured some of the most dangerous criminals in Jacksonville.