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Cristian Fernandez Case: No Grand Jury Thursday as Planned

12:21 PM, Dec 12, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A grand jury did not convene as planned in the case of a 12-year-old suspect accused in the death of his 2-year-old half brother.

There has been no plea deal in the case against the city's youngest murder suspect, Cristian Fernandez. Earlier this week, prosecutors said Fernandez could face another charge for a different felony to be presented to a grand jury.

But according to assistant state attorney Mark Caliel, today the prosecution was served with various motions from the defense that prevented the grand jury from convening.

Following an emergency hearing today with the judge in the case, Caliel said, the prosecution postponed the grand jury proceedings while the court considers the new motions and rules on the issues. Counsels have five days to present any additional arguments or motions.

Fernandez is charged with murder in the first degree and aggravated child abuse. He is accused of hitting his half brother David Galarriago on the head at least twice on March 14, killing him, said State Attorney Angela Corey after a grand jury handed down the decision earlier this year.

Corey said Monday morning her office planned to bring another charge to the grand jury on Thursday. 

Corey would not elaborate on the details, but court records filed in June show Fernandez was under investigation for the sexual molestation of a surviving sibling.

"I think it's very unfortunate that this child would be subjected to another adult sanction of any kind. He's a little boy, he belongs in little boy court, which is juvenile court," said public defender Matt Shirk.

No plea deal has been reached in the murder case between the State Attorney's Office and the public defender's office, meaning the case continues moving toward a Feb. 27 trial date.

"In the juvenile system, we can only incarcerate or have him contained for not even two years, and that is not an option to protect the community.  However, we understand at his young age he deserves a chance at rehabilitation. The plea deal we have offered would combine those two things," said State Attorney Angela Corey.

In court Monday, the public defender representing Fernandez filed a motion to dismiss. That motion will be decided at the next scheduled pre-trial hearing, scheduled for Jan. 3.

Fernandez' stepfather is dead and his mother is also in jail awaiting trial.

MORE: SAO: Cristian Fernandez Won't Stand Trial, Spend Life in Prison

In exchange for the deal under discussion in November, he would face second degree murder charges and would serve his term in a juvenile facility. Fernandez would then be released when he is 21.

The defense has not accepted but Caliel said he anticipates scheduling a trial date Monday.

But the SAO has not ruled out negotiating a deal.

The mother of Fernandez, Biannela Susana, is scheduled for trial Feb. 27, according to the Duval County Clerk of Courts website.

Susana was indicted in June in the murder of his 2-year-old half brother. Susana was also charged in the case with aggravated manslaughter of a child.

First Coast News

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