Photo: Cristian Fernandez, 12, and mother, Biannela Susana, 25 (Police photo)
At just 12 years of age, Cristian Fernandez could become the youngest person in America to be sentenced to life in prison after being the youngest person in Florida to be charged with first-degree murder for killing his 2-year-old brother in their Jacksonville, Florida home.
Fernandez was charged as an adult after Prosecutor Angela Corey said, “We have to protect the public from this young man.” At just 12, Fernandez already has a long history of violence and after reviewing said history, prosecutors decided it was in the public’s best interest to charge him as adult, since if charged as a juvenile and convicted Fernandez would be released by the time he is 21.
The 12-year-old is charged with punching his two-year-old brother, David Galarriago, to death back in March. The brother died two days after being admitted to the hospital.
An autopsy showed that the boy died from a fractured skull that caused bleeding on the brain. This blunt force trauma is consistent with being punched in the head.
“[This case is] one where you go, at what point do you step in, so you prevent another murder, and that’s how we felt in this case,” said State Attorney Angela Corey.
“If we don’t intervene now and do the tough thing. We have to protect the public from this young man.
“The fact that we indicted a 12-year-old in and of itself is a stunning event and a sad event in our prosecutorial lives that we had to do this, but it is the only legal mechanism that we can use to protect the community from this particular defendant at this point.”
Fernandez’s defense attorney has pointed to the boy’s traumatic family history, which includes sexual battery and the suicide of an abusive stepfather, as reasoning for his behavioral problems.
Adding to the familial issues, is the fact that the boys’ mother Biannela Susana, is only 25. She was just 12 years old when she had Cristian. She was also charged with negligent homicide for the death of her 2-year-old.
Fernandez was examined by two forensic psychologists that determined he was emotionally underdeveloped, but essentially had the ability to be reformed.
As for the mother, according to arrest reports, she left Fernandez to look after the younger child while she was out. When she returned, the toddler was unconscious. However, rather than calling an ambulance or immediately taking the boy to the hospital herself, she wiped the blood off of his face, changed his clothes, and put ice on his head. When he did not wake up after two hours, she finally drove him to St. Luke’s Hospital, said police. Doctors told police that if David had been taken to the hospital immediately, he would have survived.
In January, the toddler had suffered a broken leg caused by Fernandez, yet Susana initially lied and said it was caused by a fall from a jungle gym. She later admitted to the Florida Department of Children and Family Services that the older boy had broken the leg while he wrestled with the young child. Still, Susana allowed Fernandez to look after the 2-year-old while she was out.
She goes on trial for negligent homicide later this year.