Cristian Fernandez appeared in Duval County Court yesterday. He was there for his final pretrial. When a Jacksonville criminal lawyer takes a case, they start the same way. There is a bond hearing. If the Duval County State Attorney’s Office presses charges, they will file an information. This is the charging document that gives the defendant formal charges. The next step is the arraignment, which is followed by pretrial dates. The final pretrial date is the last pretrial court date before jury selection and the criminal trial. Fernandez went to court today for his final pretrial date. The final pretrial date was moved to February 28. His jury trial is set for March 4.
First Coast News of Jax published an article giving the information of this case. At the top of the page, there was a photograph of Fernandez. What do you see? A murder? A cold-blooded killer? A psychopath? Why? I see a scared little boy. I see a small child going through a criminal murder trial alone. I see someone that needs help, guidance, encouragement, and love.
As a Jacksonville juvenile lawyer and Duval County attorney, I have represented many children charged with crimes. I cannot remember ever representing a child in the situation of Fernandez. I am not referring to the fact that he is the youngest child charged as an adult. I am referring to the fact that he does not have a parent there to help him. Think about it. If your child were arrested, you would be the one calling a Jacksonville criminal attorney to help him or her. You would be the one going to the Jacksonville criminal lawyer’s office. You would visit your child at the Duval County juvenile detention facility on every, single visitation day. Imagine that you found out that your child had a mental illness, you would do anything you could to help your son or daughter. You would sacrifice your own needs to pay for your child’s doctor and medications. Fernandez does not have this. His mother, Biannela Susana, pled guilty to aggravated manslaughter in Jacksonville on March 28, 2012. She still has not been sentenced. In fact, her case has been deferred several times for sentencing. Her case has been passed to April 8, 2013 for sentencing. That is over a year after her guilty plea. This is not normal. There is a good chance that she could be used as a witness against her son in his own trial. I think that her case is being passed until after her son’s jury trial to see how she testifies. His father’s name is Jose Antonio Fernandez. He has been absent as a father for Cristian’s life.
This child was only 12 years old when he was arrested for killing his little brother. I read on Mail Online that “records show he suffered a childhood of neglect and abuse. [He was] born to a 12-year-old mother who was sexually abused. [He was] found wandering streets naked and dirty when he was two and neglected by a drug-abusing grandmother. [He was] sexually abused by his cousin and hospitalized after violent assault by a stepfather who went on to kill himself.”
As a Jacksonville juvenile lawyer, I know that defense lawyers need the family’s help when defending children. Fernandez has been at a great disadvantage his entire life. Now, he needs more help than ever. Instead of having parents there to help him, he has a mother that will likely be testifying against him. It only takes half a heart to realize that this child deserves compassion from the community. I hope that the Florida juvenile justice system does not let him down. The Miller v. Alabama case is a US Supreme Court decision that helps protect juveniles from being subjected to a mandatory life sentence (Read Jacksonville Florida Juvenile Delinquents Affected by Supreme Court Case for more information). This Supreme Court case is not enough to protect Fernandez from a ridiculous prison sentence.