Wednesday, October 19, 2011

12-Year-Old Florida Boy Faces Life In Prison

A 12-year-old Florida boy, Cristian Fernandez, may spend the rest of his life in jail for the murder of his 2-year-old half brother.

He allegedly killed the toddler in March. Police contend the 2-year-old was hospitalized on March 14 after being allegedly "physically battered" by Fernandez, according to The New York Daily News.

The child suffered "a skull fracture, subdural hemorrhage, subdural hematoma, bruising on the left eye and bruising on the bridge of his nose."

While the toddler was in the hospital, police said Fernandez confessed to beating him. He also allegedly admitted to having broken his younger brother's leg in January.

Last week, the boy was indicted by a grand jury for first-degree murder, reported the Daily News.

The case draws parallels to the Pennsylvania case of Jordan Brown. Jordan was 11-years-old when he allegedly shot his father’s pregnant girlfriend. Brown allegedly put a shot gun to her head as she lie asleep and then he left with his sister for school.

Brown was originally being tried as an adult after a judge refused to decertify his case to juvenile court. The judge ruled that since Jordan had not admitted his crime he was not amenable to treatment. He faced life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jordan appealed the judge’s ruling the case was remanded for a new decertification hearing and the judge changed his mind and decertified the case to juvenile court. He now faces an adjudication hearing--trial--in juvenile court.

If convicted in Florida, Fernandez would be sentenced to life in prison without parole. At one time Florida had 116 of the country's 181 juveniles serving life for non-murder crimes. However, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down life sentences for non-murder conviction in the case of Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. ___ (2010). Juveniles convicted of murder are still subject to life in prison.

Fernandez's mother was only 12 years old when she gave birth to him. The two ended up in foster care together and his grandmother was a drug addict. The boy was also the victim of child abuse at the hands of his stepfather, who shot and killed himself in front of the boy last year, reported the Daily News.

"It is a complex case," Assistant Public Defender Rob Mason told the Daily News. "The whole system has failed him."

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