On March 14, 2011, while most of us were discussing pre-trial motions in the murder trial of Caylee Marie Anthony, a 2 ½ year old child David died a violent death by the hands of his 12 year old halfbrother.
His name is Cristian Fernandez, and he is the youngest person to be charged with murder as an adult in Jacksonville’s history.
The medical examiner ruled 2 ½ year old David’s death a homicide, caused by blunt-force trauma. The boy’s mother Biannela Susana was not at home at the time of the incident. Police said while David was laying on his bed unconscious, his brother Cristian called his mother, who then came home.
Susana, 25, is charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child and felony child abuse.
She’s being held in jail on a $1 million dollar bond and faces up to 30 years if convicted.
This case has sparked international outrage. More than 170,000 people have signed an online petition urging the prosecutor to try the boy as a juvenile yet prosecutor Angela Corey disagrees, claiming she has compassion for Cristian yet she has to follow Florida law.
According to the 2009 Bureau of Justice Statistics, the home state of “DisneyLand” has sent more juveniles into the adult prison population than any other state. Better think twice before bringing the kiddies to Florida this summer for vacation.
For the record, the state of Florida has sent 393 juveniles into adult population. Following are the state of Connecticut with 332, North Carolina with 213, New York with 157 and Texas with 156. If I do the math, this means that Florida sends more than twice as many kids into our adult prison system than the other states of the nation. That’s impressive in a negative sort of way.
Cristian Fernandez has lived the most heart wrenching life imaginable.
Cristian, born to a 12 year old mother, grandson to a full fledged drug addicted grandmother, endured the wrath on an abusive step-father who during the investigation and his upcoming arrest for abusing his stepson Cristian, put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger in front of his children. Cristian the oldest of his mother’s 3 children, had sadly witnessed the entire ordeal.
Psychological reports say Cristian has shown violent behavior dating back from the age of 3, including killing a kitten for scratching him on the face. The report noted details of public indecency, an incident in which he simulated a sex act on a male twice his age and the sexual assault of his surviving half brother.
Prosecutors contend that Fernandez repeatedly slammed 2 year old David Galarraga’s head on a book shelf to kill him.
The psychological report shows Fernandez’s perception of the death from Dr. Meadow’s interview.
“He said that he picked up his younger brother and pushed him into the bookcase. He said that his brother was bleeding and unresponsive so he carried him to the bed and called his mother.
“Cristian denied any plans or intent to kill his brother. He seemed rather defensive about discussing what triggered his anger. He talked about having a flashback of the abuse by his stepfather as the motive for this offense.”
The stepfather he is referring to is Luis Galarraga who shot himself to death in front of Fernandez’s younger sibling in October of 2010, as the Hialeah police were coming to arrest him for abusing Cristian.
Five months after the suicide, the family moved to Jacksonville. Court papers say Cristian had enrolled at Kernan Middle School. He was a straight-A sixth-grade student at the time of his arrest.
State Attorney Angela Corey and Assistant State Attorney Mark Caliel filed the papers to combat a written request Public Defender Matt Shirk had made to asking to allow Fernandez to await trial at a juvenile facility. Cristian had spent three weeks, 23 hours a day in isolation at the Duval County jail. Due to the psychological report, he was allowed to wait at the juvenile facility.
In writing his report, Dr. William Meadows, forensic psychologist also took into account past abuse where Fernandez had been a victim. In a standardized test it labeled him a high risk for future violence.
It’s what happened after Cristian called his mother is where this case becomes questionable. Who’s really to blame for David’s death?
A doctor at St. Luke’s told a police officer that had the toddler been treated sooner, he may have survived.
When Biannela Susana arrived home and saw her 2 year old unconscious on the bed, instead of calling for help or bring the child directly to the hospital, she decided to check the internet. Her laptop commuter shows she searched “when some (sic) gets knocked out” at 10:54am. At 2:15pm, “when your unconscious for hours”. At 2:38 pm, “concussions on chldren.” She also checked her Wachovia bank account before getting help for the 2 ½ year old toddler David.
Cristian Fernandez’s public defenders argue all of the blame belongs to Cristian’s mother not her 12 year old son. It was also reported that David sustained a broken leg months earlier while under the care of Cristian which should have been a warning to his mother that Cristian was not capable of babysitting.
While I see the indications that Cristian may be on the road to serial killing, I also believe he is a perfect candidate for psychiatric treatment instead of spending the rest of his life in prison. In a secure psychiatric facility, under daily treatment and guidance of trained professional psychologists for 10 or so years, he could possibly become the young man God intended him to be.
Another benefit for mental help as opposed to prison is if society commits Cristian to a mental hospital, it’s a fact that in a mental insanity commitment, there is no day of release. He can only be released when he is cured and fit to be a member of society.
As an example, John Hinckley Jr. who was found mentally insane for his assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. As of 2010, John Hinckley had spent 28 years incarcerated; he’s now 54 years old. Hinckley was finally being prepared to leave St. Elizabeth’s Psychiatric Hospital, by allowing him 12 weeks a year of unsupervised visitation with his mother at her home in Virginia.
Considering the crime itself, arbitrarily he could never be deemed fit for release except for the fact that he comes from a very wealthy family. Society could be very harsh.
The same could be for Cristian Fernandez. What better specimen could the mental professionals ask for than a child turned murderer, who was severely abused, physically, sexually and emotionally, acted out his hatred on his younger 2 year old brother?
Cristian Fernandez is a treasure trove of mental information. The amount of knowledge to be garnered from young Cristian is priceless. What could be learned from young Cristian, in a way would make David’s death not in vain and at the same time to help society.
How will we ever know if mental help works if we never use it?
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