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Old 01-31-2012, 09:40 PM
Location: Native Floridian, USA
4,904 posts, read 6,120,472 times
Reputation: 6112


Folio Weekly's Cover Story

t Kernan Middle School on Monday, March 14, a sixth-grade teacher marked Cristian Fernandez with an unexcused absence. The 12-year-old was a straight-A student and known as a quiet kid who kept to himself. But no one knew, and few could have imagined, the adult responsibilities he shouldered at home.

That Monday, his mother, Biannela Marie Susana, left three younger siblings in his care — 2-year-old David, 4-year-old Lyanna and 5-year-old Luis. Cristian Fernandez would later tell a psychologist that his mother frequently left him in charge of the other children, although he was careful not to say anything that would make her sound like a bad mom. Sometime that morning, in the bedroom of their Southside apartment, Cristian got angry at David, and he punished him for it violently. Fernandez told the psychologist he rammed his brother’s head against a bookshelf in the bedroom. When the toddler fell to the ground, Fernandez picked him up and rammed him into the bookshelf again. After the outburst, Fernandez seems to have recovered himself and switched back to the role of caretaker — a pattern familiar to victims of abuse. He told police he carried his little brother — unconscious and bleeding — to the lower bunk bed in their bedroom, and then called his mother.

Susana brought David to St. Luke’s Hospital at 5:30 that evening. Doctors there had him airlifted immediately to Shands Jacksonville, but they didn’t expect him to survive. His skull was fractured and his brain had been bleeding for hours. After two days on life support, doctors removed David from the machines.

Police investigators appeared to blame Susana for the child’s death. They noted that she’d left the toddler in Fernandez’s care despite knowing he’d been violent before with the toddler. (Cristian had broken David’s leg last January, and the toddler was still wearing a blue cast from his hip to his ankle when he died.) Police also noted that Susana waited two hours to seek medical help for her son (investigators later determined it was more like five hours), even though immediate medical care might have saved his life.

But State Attorney Angela Corey didn’t see things quite as police did. She charged Susana with aggravated manslaughter, but saved the big guns — charges of first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse — for 12-year-old Cristian. She announced she would prosecute the boy as an adult, and in June, a grand jury gave her what she sought — an indictment on both charges. It gave him the dubious honor of being the youngest person charged with first- degree murder in Jacksonville history.

After the indictment, Corey ordered Cristian moved from juvenile detention, where he’d been held since March, to the Duval County Jail. There, he was placed in an isolation cell “about the size of a lawn shed,” one reporter noted, for 23 hours a day.

The move, prosecutors argued, was needed to ensure the safety of inmates at the juvenile facility. “If I were the parents of a kid charged with petty theft,” said Assistant State Attorney Mark Caliel, “I would be outraged if someone charged with first-degree murder were there right beside them.” He cited a report by a forensic psychologist that said that Fernandez scored “high risk” for future violence and insisted the only appropriate place for him was isolation in the adult jail.

Corey echoed the sentiment, and her office fought efforts by Cristian’s lawyers to return him to juvenile custody. As she told one TV reporter, “We have to protect the public from this young man.”

The Fernandez case began just as Corey was gearing up to seek a second term as state attorney for the Fourth Judicial District. In both her first campaign and her years in office, she’s built a reputation for being tough on crime (she once jokingly said she’d put her own mother in jail if she broke the law).

That tough talk played well in a city reeling from years as Florida’s murder capital. Corey led the state this year in death penalty convictions. She nearly doubled the number of juveniles tried as adults her first year in office. She abolished a popular juvenile justice program implemented by her former boss, Harry Shorstein, which offered serious juvenile offenders an opportunity for rehabilitation, and won praise from both The New York Times and CBS’ “60 Minutes.” (Corey’s chief assistant called the program “dangerous and detrimental to the community.”) By getting tough on young offenders, Corey would make Jacksonville streets safe again. ........snipped.....
to me, it gets more interesting......

I do not believe Cristian should be tried as an adult. He is being used as a pawn to fund her political ambitions, JMO> He should be punished but receive treatment as well.

Last edited by AnnieA; 01-31-2012 at 09:42 PM.. Reason: eta: trying to clean up the quote function.
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Old 02-08-2012, 07:04 PM
Location: Native Floridian, USA
4,904 posts, read 6,120,472 times
Reputation: 6112
Cristian now has a battery of lawyers that are taking over his case pro bono, no cost to the tax payers. The PD keeps hinting at the publicity aspect of it but I don't think those lawyers need or are soliciting the publicity. They feel Cristian is getting a raw deal. No one wants Cristian to go free, they just want to level the playing field and see that he gets the help he has been denied for so long.

If the previous post was read, there are reasons in it that indicates why this is happening.
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