Biannela Marie Susana
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A 12-year-old boy indicted Thursday in the murder of his 2-year-old half brother may have been responsible for a broken leg the toddler sustained earlier this year.
Cristian Fernandez was indicted Thursday for 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.
Fernandez is charged with murder in the first degree and aggravated child abuse. Biannela Marie Susana, Fernandez' mother, was also charged, with aggravated manslaughter of a child.
According to an arrest and booking report from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, on Jan. 22 David broke his leg. Initially, their mother said it was from a fall, but later admitted she had lied and that Fernandez broke his brother's leg while wrestling.
Fernandez is the oldest of four children; his siblings are now in the care of the state.
Public defender Rob Mason, one of two defenders assigned to the 12-year-old, said his client has needed protection throughout his life. "Cristian is somebody that the system failed, quite frankly."
Mason said his client was at a disadvantage from day one, after being born to a 12-year-old mother, Susana, now his co-defendant. Fernandez was physically and mentally abused by many adults in his life, said Mason.
But he admitted his client should be off the streets for now. "Right now, probably society wouldn't be safe."
Mason said with the right therapy, the psychological evaluations he has seen show Fernandez could be reintegrated into society by the time he becomes an adult.
Corey said the decision to charge Fernandez was taken very seriously. "It's one where you go, at what point do you step in, so you prevent another murder?," she said. "And that's how we felt in this case...We have to protect the public from this young man."
Fernandez is scheduled to have his first appearance in court tomorrow morning. He will be arraigned Wednesday, and is being held in the Duval County jail in a section for juveniles.
First Coast News