Jacksonville, Fla. –
12-year-old Cristian Fernandez will be the youngest person ever tried as an adult in Jacksonville for the death of his brother.
Fernandez stands accused of throwing his two-year-old brother into a bookcase then beating him. The toddler died of a fractured skull and internal brain bleeding.
The boy’s 25-year-old mother, Biannela Susana, also faces charges of aggravated manslaughter. Prosecutors say when she came home and discovered what happened, she put ice on the two-year-old boy’s injuries and did an internet search for concussions before calling 911 for help.
“I’m optimistic we’ll work out a deal where we can protect the community and take a chance on rehabilitation for Cristian,” said Angela Corey with the state attorney’s office.
In a trend growing across the nation of putting youths on trial as adults and sentencing them as adults, the state attorney’s office in Jacksonville, Florida has decided to put the Fernandez on trial as an adult. He does not, however, face the death penalty because the U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled minors cannot be sentenced to death saying while they may be guilty and should be punished, they will not pay the ultimate punishment for their actions as a youth, still growing up and learning.
Florida had 12 minors on death row at the time of the Supreme Court ruling and has since commuted all of their sentences to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The same court ruling also determined that minors cannot be locked away forever with no meaningful chance of release for crimes committed while still young, not being fully in control of their ability to make decisions and that it violated the protection of the constitution of cruel and unusual punishment.
But all of this brings to mind, is our society becoming vengeful? “It seems we are now prosecuting anyone and everyone for failing to do what “we,” think is right and logical says youth advocate Jennifer Prosy. “And we want to hit them with everything we have, where has fairness, mercy, and rehabilitation gone?” “When do we look at an unfortunate situation and say yeah, she should have called 911 faster, but perhaps she failed to realize immediately how bad her son was, especially if the older son lied about how bad he acted or what had happened.
Prosecutors allege she first told police the toddler fell. The same prosecutors are elected officials, and getting prosecutions to allow them to say they are tough on crime… but some like Prosy argue, is it always crime or a sad set of events, vengeance and political grandstanding that makes us see a crime?