Bosnian man pleads guilty to Columbus Park Crossing killing

Ekrem Jakupovic in Court
Ekrem Jakupovic in Court

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  A Bosnian man has admitted his guilt in a deadly shooting at the Columbus Park Crossing Shopping Center.

In an agreement with the state, 47-year-old Ekrem Jakupovic pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and weapons violations before Chief Muscogee County Superior Court Judge John Allen Tuesday.

On September 11, 2004, prosecutors say Jakupovic, the victim, Alfredo Sanchez, and Sanchez's brother were all working as subcontractors out of Atlanta doing construction on the HHGregg Store on Whittlesey Boulevard.

Earlier in the day, the victim and his brother had asked Jakupovic to move some wood on the roof of the building where they needed to wield.

Jakupovic told them he was going to lunch at the nearby Wendy's. While at the fast food restaurant, Jakupovic watched as pieces of wood were falling or being thrown off the roof.

He drove back, got his gun out and started pointing it up at the victim and his brother. He took a fork lift up to the roof and the brothers grabbed pieces of wood. Some witnesses say Jakupovic already had his gun out and the brothers started hitting his hand with the wood so he'd drop it. Jakupovic says he only pulled his gun out in self defense when the brothers started beating him with the wood. Everyone agrees that the gun fired as Jakupovic fell backward.

Alfredo Sanchez, a 38-year-old father of four, was hit by a bullet and died.

His brother, Juan Sanchez, was shot in the leg. Here illegally, prosecutors say he has left the country.

In 2006, a jury acquitted Jakupovic of malice murder and found him guilty of felony murder. The conviction was later thrown out by Judge Bobby Peters and Jakupovic's attorney took the matter to the Georgia Supreme Court, trying to stop further prosecution in the case but was denied.

Judge Allen sentenced Jakupovic to 30 years, five of which he'll spend behind bars. After that, prosecutors say the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Board of Pardons and Parole will deport him back to Bosnia, a requirement stemming from his conviction. As part of his plea deal, Jakupovic has agreed to never enter the United States again.

"The guilty plea and this sentence ensures that the defendant will be deported back to Bosnia and so our citizens will be safe," Assistant District Attorney Sadhana Dailey said after court.

Jakupovic will turn himself into the Muscogee County Jail on November 27th to begin his prison sentence. Until then, he is under house arrest.

His attorney, Donald Samuel, had no comment for WTVM after the sentencing Tuesday.

©2010 WTVM. All rights reserved.