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Judge weighs arguments to dismiss murder chage against Cristian Fenandez

4:27 PM, Sep 28, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Cristian Fernandez is 13 years old and faces a first degree murder charge, but his defense team is arguing there are legal grounds to dismiss the charge.

Circuit Judge Mallory Cooper heard both sides present their legal positions in court during a 45-minute hearing on Friday.

Fernandez is getting international attention since he was charged as the youngest defendant ever in Jacksonville to be accused of murder. He's charged in connection with the death of his two year-old half brother.

Bryan Gowdy, who is part of the Fernandez defense team, told the judge that a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling is grounds for dismissal because sentencing a minor to life with benefit or parole is cruel and unusual punishment.

Mark Caliel argued the state's position, that Fernandez was properly charged.

"They are seeking dismissal of first-degree murder charge that has been brought forth by the grand jury; saying in essence you cannot charge first-degree murder, period. That is not what the court intended," Cailiel told the judge.

"Our view is only the legislature can nix it because the two punishments is death and mandatory life without parole is unconstitutional ... so there is no way to tell him (Fernandez) what he is facing," said Gowdy.

Judge Cooper has already ruled that police interrogations of the teen could not be used in his trial.    

First Coast News

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