JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In the final scheduled day of evidence suppression hearings in the Cristian Fernandez case, a clinical psychologist who interviewed Fernandez in January said he was emotionally less mature than a 12 year old.
The suppression hearings have focused on whether Judge Mallory Cooper will allow statements and videotapes of Fernandez's alleged confession to police. Fernandez is on trial for sexual battery trial for allegedly molesting a 5-year-old half brother. That trial is set for August 27. Fernandez is also accused of being responsible for the 2011 death of a 2-year-old half brother. That trial will take place September 10.
Marty Beyer was retained to assess Fernandez's ability to understand Miranda rights and interviewed him for 13 hours. Beyer also interviewed Fernandez's mother, aunt, teacher, counselor and unit staff at the detention center.
Beyer said that Fernandez was unable to knowingly waive his rights, as he was not able to grasp and comprehend the significance of rights and then process that and make a decision of whether to waive rights or not.
Adolescents under the age of 14 are not usually able to grasp the concept of Miranda rights, as it is abstract thinking and adolescents are not good at abstract thinking, Beyer said.
When interviewing Fernandez, she found a depressed, childish, anxious, compliant, respectful, unusual combination of displaying emotionally less maturity than a 12 year old.
Beyer also found Fernandez to be very dependent, easily distracted, and needing feedback. She observed that Fernandez displayed immature thinking, as he could often not see more than one choice and had difficulty seeing the outcome of his actions overall, not just related to the case.
In addition to the enormous amount of trauma in his short life, Beyer also said Fernandez displayed significant cognitive impairment (learning disabilities).
Beyer concluded that his immature thinking impaired his ability to think. She said Fernandez could only see one option and truly didn't believe he could say no to the police and could not see ahead as to the importance and the use of the interview by police.
Tiredness would have further impaired his ability to go beyond immature thinking, she said.
First Coast News