This petition ran for almost a year and a half. I would like to give a heartfelt thank you to all who signed. State Attorney Angela Corey and the rest of the SAO refused to budge on reversing their decision to try him as an adult. Fortunately Cristian now has a strong team of private attorneys working hard to defend him. This case is now in their hands. Please keep Cristian in your thoughts as his case goes on to trial. Melissa
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.
Another petition has been started to ask for the removal of State Attorney Angela Corey because she misled the public when she said he would not stand trial (he faces not one but TWO trials in adul court) and she was not seeking life without parole (life without parole is the mandatory sentence). Additionally, Corey has said in the media and to the public she chose not to try Cristian in juvenile court because he would serve less than two years. The Southern Poverty Law Center released a statement countering this claim, explaining that realistically in the juvenile system he would be under the court's jurisdiction until he was 21. If convicted, Cristian will be the youngest person ever sentenced to life without parole in America.
The petition to remove Corey is here.
A second petition asking that Corey be removed is here.
A complete background of the case is here.
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 had broken 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 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. It was later determined that she waited about eight hours before seeking treatment for her son.
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."
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's stepfather committed suicide. 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 has been detained for over a year and has not yet had a trial. He faces two trials on three separate indictments brought by State Attorney Angela Corey.
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.
Join us in an email/letter writing campaign asking the U.S. State Attorney and President to intervene in Cristian's case. Prior efforts to appeal to Angela Corey, Governor Rick Scott, and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi have been unsuccessful.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Contact online: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments
Find out more:
Visit www.justice4juveniles.com to find out more about Cristian's case and other juvenile cases.
Dear State Attorney Corey:
I am writing you in reference to 12 year old Cristian Fernandez to urge you to drop the charge of first degree murder against him in adult court. I respectfully ask that you instead allow his case to be tried in juvenile court. If convicted, the juvenile court system is structured to provide Cristian with rehabilitative resources he would not have access to in the adult prison system. You have already received reports from experts that Christian is a child who can be reformed.
Cristian Fernandez is a minor child, but also he is a very young minor child. This is not a case involving a 17 year old who has committed a string of robberies, or a home invasion resulting in a killing. It is a crime that, if he is culpable, occurred in a completely dysfunctional home in which he received no guidance, supervision or parenting. Your office is currently seeking to convict him on charges that demonstrate the highest degree of culpability. If he is found guilty, Cristian will receive a life without parole sentence.
Sentencing a juvenile under the age of 18 to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is in violation of international law per the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The United States became a party to this treaty agreement in 1992. Even in nations that allow such sentencing, it was estimated in 2007 that no more than 12 juveniles outside of the United States had received a sentence of life without parole, while the U.S. had more than 2,200.
Cristian Fernandez is a juvenile and should be treated as such in the criminal justice system. He has experienced physical, sexual, and emotional abuse for which he never received appropriate treatment.
I implore you to do the right thing by this child and allow his case to be tried where it belongs – in the juvenile criminal justice system. We appreciate your consideration in this very important matter.