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February 10, 2013

In Sheep's Clothing: When Children Kill (Niedermeyer's Dead Horse)

No person wants to think of a child's life wasted. We want to see them raised in a loving, supportive home. We want to see them receive the best education. We want them to feel safe. We want these things because they contribute to the quality of adult life they will lead. Yet with sadness, despair even, we are aware that too many children do not live the lives we dream for them.

Cristian Fernandez is just such a boy.

The story of Cristian's life reads like a horror story: Born to a 12 year old girl who lived with her own drug-addicted mother, he has endured both physical and sexual abuse during his short life. It is impossible to not feel sorry for what he, only a child, has endured. Yet.... it is impossible not to mourn for the child whom he has killed.

At 12, Cristian Fernandez was the youngest person in Jacksonville to have ever been indicted for murder. He has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse in the case involving the death of his 2-year old brother, killed in a beating while the two were unsupervised. Further he has been charged with sexual battery of his 5-year old brother (Charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence).

His mother has already pleaded to manslaughter for failing to seek help (for eight hours!) for the critically injured child who died, and will serve a minimum of 13 years in prison.

This week, Cristian was allowed to plead to manslaughter and aggravated battery and he will be held in custody in a juvenile facility until he is 19-years old. Upon his release, he will serve, with good behavior, another 5 years on probation. The pleas came after his videotaped interrogations were tossed as a judge sided with the defense in stating that Cristian, interrogated without an adult present, did not understand the Miranda Rights that were read to him. (Plea deal and subsequent press conference here.)

During the past year this case has been the source of a great deal of angst and debate: Do you throw away the keys to a child when he is only 12-years old? Can you call a 12-year old child a monster? What are the consequences of placing a child, albeit a murderer, in either an adult or a juvenile facility? How about the needs to punish weighed against the needs for rehabilitation?

Oh.... and....

Did Angela Corey seek to make a name for herself by too aggressively pursing the charges against him?

This post could go on for page after page and I might never make it any more lucid than it is now, for my head is still turning.

Take a peak at the story and let me know your thoughts, about the child, the prosecution, the protection of the public.

Maybe someone will be able to put my mind at ease about the whole, ugly, damnable mess.

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posted by Open Blogger at 04:27 PM

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