JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The family of a Johns Creek teen who died from a drug overdose while partying with a man nearly twice her age said the district attorney’s office failed to notify them the suspect was having a bond hearing at which the judge granted him bail.
Carly Jackson died on Valentine’s Day after Johns Creek Police say she overdosed on drugs at an apartment off Craftsman Street with 25-year-old Shawn Saleem.
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Investigators said Saleem saw the Johns Creek High School junior in distress the night before, but didn’t call for help because he had other drugs in his mother’s apartment and didn’t want to get in trouble.
They also claim Saleem tried to cover up what happened by moving Carly’s body to another location.
He’s facing charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and for concealing the death of another.
“It’s just a shame a life taken way too soon,” Carly’s father Brian Jackson told Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik in an exclusive interview. “It’s just breaking our family, it’s breaking our hearts. We just miss her so much.”
Jackson said his daughter could light up a room with her smile and laugh.
“She had a great sense of humor, loved her family, loved her animals, loved her friends,” he said. “She just was the kindest, sweetest person you’d ever want to meet. And she had a good heart.”
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Jackson told Petchenik his family had attended all of Saleem’s hearings, including one right after his arrest, but they were shocked to learn prosecutors failed to notify them of a bond hearing Monday morning.
A Fulton County judge granted Saleem a $30,000 surety bond.
“We never received word of this bond hearing, because there were some things we would have liked to have said to the judge. Would it have made a difference? I don’t know. But there’s real concerns on our end,” Jackson said. “There’s safety issues, there’s family issues, their society issues. There’s a lot of things that are involved, that we didn’t get to tell the court because we weren’t awarded that opportunity. And that’s what’s frustrating to us that the victim’s family did not have a chance to be heard…. Our daughter is gone, we will never kiss her, we will never hug her, we will never see her again, the only thing we can do is make sure that our daughter receives the justice she deserves. And to being denied of that, from any step along the process is really disheartening.”
Petchenik reached out to District Attorney Fani Willis’ office, and a spokesman, Jeff DiSantis sent him a statement:
“The Deputy District Attorney who leads the office’s new Crimes Against Children Unit has been in close touch with the family and the Johns Creek Police Department about the case. Our priority is always the well-being of victims and their families, and that is true in this case. If we missed a communication about information they wished to have, we will certainly ensure that does not happen in the future as we move forward to making a charging decision in the case.”
Even if Saleem were to post bond, he’ll likely go back to jail immediately in Forsyth County, where a judge revoked his bond on a previous drug arrest after the arrest in Fulton County.
A Fulton County Sheriff’s spokesperson indicated Forsyth County would likely come get Saleem, but if he were to leave the Fulton jail, he would have to abide by several bond conditions, including a 24 hour curfew, and a prohibition on contact with minors.
“We’re concerned for the witnesses, we’re concerned for my other children,” said Jackson. “We’re really, really concerned that if this man was to walk out before he gets picked up by Forsyth County, then he’ll run.”
Meantime, Jackson said he doesn’t want Carly’s death to have been in vain, and he wants to warn other parents of teens.
“The night of the incident, she was in contact with her mother, she was FaceTiming her mother. Her mother thought she was somewhere else than where she was,” he said. “I’m not saying my daughter was perfect. She made errors like all teenagers do. She got hooked up with the wrong people, that at the end of the day, if I can do anything to help other parents out there, and to say, from my experiences, that you don’t always know what your children are doing.”
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