Reverse decision to try 12 y/o Cristian Fernandez as an adult

Cristian Fernandez is a juvenile and should be treated as such in the criminal justice system. A gag order was placed on his case, preventing the public from accessing information pertaining to his circumstances and the events surrounding his brother’s death. That order needs to be lifted and the decision to try Cristian as an adult, subjecting him to a sentence of life in an adult prison, needs to be reversed.

Case Background

Cristian was born on January 14th of 1999 to a mother who was as old as he is today. Cristian is 12 years old. On March 15th he was arrested relating to the alleged beating of his 2 year old brother David. At the time of his arrest, David was under the care of St. Luke’s hospital, receiving treatment for injuries he sustained the day before.

David died on March 16th as a result of injuries to the head. Doctors who took care of the young child indicated that if his mother had brought him to the hospital when he was first injured he might not have died as a result. However, the child’s mother waited for six hours or more before taking him to the hospital. She did not call 911 before taking her son to the hospital.

12 year old Cristian was left in the apartment to care for his 2 year old brother even though he hadbroken the child’s leg while wrestling in January of the same year. Cristian’s arrest report indicated that Cristian was worried about the condition of his brother and was also concerned about what would happen to him as a result of his hurting his younger brother.

Cristian’s mother was arrested on the 15th as well. It is documented in the arrest report that she failed to immediately seek medical attention for little David and that she spent time researching his injury online before she took him to the hospital. David was unconscious while this occurred. Biannela also admitted to leaving Cristian alone with David.

On June 3rd, Cristian was indicted for first degree murder in his brother’s death. On the 8th of the same month he was arraigned in court for this charge. The prosecution requested a gag order placed on the parties involved in the case. Prosecutor Mark Caliel stated, “We have a concern that any comments being interpreted by a potential jury pool could inhibit our ability to fairly and adequately try this case.”

Their request was granted.

On June 5th, media outlets reported that Cristian had been examined by two separate forensic psychologists. Each concluded that he was “emotionally underdeveloped but essentially reformable despite a tough life.”

Cristian’s attorney formally requested that his client be moved from the Duval County Jail, where he was housed, to the Duval County juvenile facility. His request was ultimately denied.

On July 22nd, Cristian appeared for his pre-trial hearing. At this hearing he was charged with first-degree murder in adult court. As a result of this charge, Cristian faces life in prison.

Cristian’s life has been very difficult. When he was just two years old he was found wandering the streets naked in a hotel parking lot. He was dirty and neglected. Cristian’s grandmother was acting as his guardian at the time and was charged with possession of drugs and neglect. Cristian and his 14 year old mother were placed in foster care.

In October of 2010, months before David’s death, Cristian and his younger brother observed the suicide of his violent and abusive stepfather. Authorities found Cristian’s brother David covered in the stepfather’s blood after he shot himself with a 9mm gun. The stepfather committed suicide to avoid abuse charges stemming from his having punched Cristian in the face, giving him a severe injury to his eye.

Cristian’s mother would later claim in a letter to the Florida Times Union that DCF placed her children on a waiting list for counseling, denying them access to the therapy they needed to cope with the trauma they endured. DCF has not responded to these claims. However, the Florida state attorney’s office issued a subpoena to have the letter turned over to them on September 1st. The Florida Time Union argued in court on September 9th that they had a right to refuse to turn over the letter, citing the first amendment.

Cristian is scheduled for his next hearing on October 5th to evaluate the results of a third psychological examination.

Cristian is a child who has been physically, emotionally, and sexually abused. The system failed him his entire life and now it stands to repeat history by refusing Cristian the right to be tried in juvenile court. Cristian has demonstrated he is amenable to rehabilitation. There is no logical reason to deny this child his right to the programs and treatment provided through the juvenile court system. Help Cristian receive the justice he deserves as a juvenile.

Find out more:

Visit to find out more about Cristian’s case and other juvenile cases.

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