13-year-old faces first-degree murder charges in Florida
Jacksonville, Florida: Judge Mallory Cooper, of Florida's Fourth Circuit Court, may be facing one of the more difficult cases of her career. A 13-year-old boy, Cristian Fernandez has been charged with the 2011 murder of his 2-year-old half-brother, as well as the sexual abuse of his 5-year-old half-brother. He is currently being tried as an adult, though questions remain as to how to handle the case.
Fernandez faced all kinds of serious abuse himself while growing up. Those involved with the murder case are trying to determine a punishment that will be strict enough for the crime, yet also allow Fernandez to get help. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for juveniles to receive mandatory life sentences without parole. However, Florida state law has not yet changed, so defense attorneys are unable to advise Fernandez as to what punishments he may face. Prosecutors say that they are not seeking the death penalty or a life term, but possibly a 25-year-to-life sentence.
Judge Cooper has ruled that videotaped statements by Fernandez during interrogations can not be used as evidence because the boy did not understand what it meant to waive his Miranda rights. Fernandez is currently being detained. The next hearing is set for Sept. 28.
|This article was written by Matt Latourelle, the Project Director for the State Courts Project on Judgepedia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.|