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Teen accused in Hyde Park hit-and-run death expected to plead guilty in November

TAMPA — The Davis Islands teen accused of fleeing a fatal crash this year is expected to plead guilty and be sentenced later this fall.

At a court hearing Thursday for Jordan Valdez, her attorney indicated she will enter the change of plea Nov. 24. Valdez faces an adult charge of leaving the scene of an accident with death.

Prosecutors and the defense have been unable to reach a plea agreement in the case.

"We're asking that the judge sentence her as a juvenile, they're asking that the judge sentence her as an adult," said defense attorney Ty Trayner.

The charge carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison, but the state is not seeking prison time or a conviction for Valdez. The exact terms of the plea offer have not been disclosed.

A 2007 Nissan Murano usually driven by Valdez, then a 16-year-old junior at Academy of the Holy Names, was linked to a Feb. 8 crash that killed a homeless woman as she crossed Hyde Park Avenue near the Davis Islands bridge. The victim was Melissa Sjostrom, 33.

Trayner said the hearing on Nov. 24 could be lengthy, with both sides bringing contingents to speak.

"We're going to try to bring as many people as we can," he said.

Valdez, 17, is now a senior at Academy of the Holy Names. She did not attend the hearing Thursday.

"I don't go anywhere without anyone coming up to me telling me what a great kid she is," Trayner said.

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3337.

Teen accused in Hyde Park hit-and-run death expected to plead guilty in November 10/01/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 1, 2009 9:24pm]
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