tuesday, 25 september of 2012

13 year-old boy suspected of killing one brother and sexually assaulting another

Life sentence

13 year-old boy suspected of killing one brother and sexually assaulting another

A team of top defense attorneys took the case of Cristian Fernandes pro bono. Public Defender Matt Shirk withdrew as the attorney for the 13 year-old who is on trial for the murder of his two year old brother and the sexual assault of another brother.

A year ago, Cristian Fernandez, 13 is accused of brutally beating his two year old half-brother to death. He has also been charged for allegedly sexually assaulting another sibling when he was 11, even though the five year old recanted his story

Cristian was charged as an adult and is awaiting trial in Duval County, Florida where he has been held for over 19 months. According to WTSP, Fernandez is the youngest inmate awaiting trial.

On March, 2011, Fernandez's two year-old brother David died from a fractured skull and bleeding brain at the local hospital. His death initiated the response of police officers to the home. Biannela Susana, the kid's mother spoke with investigators.

Susana informed the police that even though he had broken David's leg just two weeks earlier, she left the two boys and a third sibling at home alone. When she returned home, she found David "unconscious".

Instead of rushing the unresponsive child to the emergency room, Susana waited eight and a half hours before taking little David to the hospital. He died two day later. Doctors have stated that had he received immediate care, it is possible the little boy would have survived his injuries.

Investigators discovered that leaving the children at home alone was a normal occurrence. In direct response to Susana's neglect, she was charged with aggravated manslaughter. She has since pleaded guilty and is currently in jail.

Fernandez initially was only questioned as a witness to the death. However according to one doctor, Fernandez was "emotional detached" when he spoke about the situation.

"Cristian denied any plans or intent to kill his brother. He seemed rather defensive about discussing what triggered his anger. He talked about having a 'flashback' of the abuse by his step-father as the motive for this offense. Cristian was rather detached emotionally while discussing the incident."

Cristian's step-father severely abused him and before police could arrest him for the abuse, he shot himself. The family relocated after leaving Miami in 2010 in order to get away from the nightmare of the step-fathers suicide in front of the children.

There were however, at least four doctors who evaluated Cristian including one expert hired by the state. They all concluded that he needed rehabilitation and that he was not a threat to anyone.

In the year since the situation, investigators have found that Fernandez's life has been full of neglect and violence. As a toddler, Fernandez and his 14 year-old mother who got pregnant with him during a sexual assault were placed in foster care.

Fernandez's life didn't get any easier after being placed with his step-father. At 8, he was sexually abused by a relative, and then brutally beaten by his step-father. The Department of Children and Families discovered during their investigation that there were allegations that he killed a kitten, simulated sex with classmates and masturbated at school.

This child was screaming for help, and yet his victimization was ignored. His mother had even gone so far as to request help from the Department of Children and Families. Their idea of assistance was to put her on a waiting list.

The prosecutor in this case is Angela Corey. Corey has a reputation of overcharging her cases. In response to the overcharging in Fernandez's case, the community has come out in support of him. A petition was started at change.org and currently has approximately 192,000 signatures.

Judge Mallory Cooper must now decide if it's appropriate for such a young boy to face a life sentence and if in fact he understands the legal process and his rights. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole are unconstitutional for juveniles.

(Published by Examiner - September 19, 2012)

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