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On anniversary of his death, sister of 2016 Sonic shooting victim says the holidays don’t get easier

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MADISON, Ala. -  It was two years ago Wednesday when 18-year-old Jason West got mixed up in what police said was a deadly drug deal.  West was shot and killed at the Sonic on County Line Road in front of James Clemens High School on December 26, 2016.

Court documents revealed West walked up to someone's car window and chatted for a minute before being shot in the chest. Now, two men are charged with capital murder in his death.

No matter who you are, grieving the loss of a loved one is difficult. When that person dies of a violent crime, forcing the family to endure court hearings, the trial and the possibility of the death penalty, the loss can be that much harder.

Fifteen-year-old Annika West fondly remembers her older brother whose pictures still decorate her family's living room. This time of year points out an obvious thought: nothing, especially the holidays, will ever be the same.

"I was talking to my dad to make sure everything was okay," West recalled of December 26, 2016. "He said that Jason wasn't answering his texts and calls, and usually he did answer his texts, so we were really worried about him."

Driving home with her dad that day, past the familiar Sonic on County Line Road, Annika saw the crime scene, and still didn't have an answer from her brother. And, she would not hear from him again.

"It's still something that I think about every day," West said. "I still struggle, like coping with it."

West probably wouldn't know 24-year-old Dacedric Ward or 21-year-old Trevor Cantrell otherwise. But, a drug deal and the death of West's brother forced them to cross paths.

"It's definitely hard to see them," West said of sitting in the same courtroom with the men charged with killing her brother.

Police believe the two men were the last people to see West alive. Court records show Cantrell admitted to police that the pair told West they would sell him Xanax, but they intended to rob him all along. Not long after he died, his little sister found out.

"Even though this story talks about things that aren't positive, he was a really good person and he definitely didn't deserve it," West said.

Cantrell and Ward pleaded not guilty. Therefore, West and her family have spent the last two years in and out of the Limestone County Courthouse.

"It's like the death, the funeral, the court dates and just like hearing about it on the news," West explained.

Ward's next court date is on January 31. Cantrell's next hearing is on January 8. That is when Cantrell will find out whether the jury will seek the death penalty if he's found guilty.

"I don't really know what I want them to get because I don't want to think about another person dying," West said, talking about the sentencing if the men are found guilty.

West said she never wants to see her brother's killer, no matter who is convicted of his death.

"I want them to stay in jail forever cause I never want to see them, or have to have other people have to see them in a grocery store," West said.

Neither man charged in this case has a trial date yet. WHNT News 19 reached out to the attorneys of both Ward and Cantrell. Cantrell's attorney never returned our calls for comment. Ward's attorney said they were deferring statements at this time.

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