JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Our news partner The Florida Times-Union is reporting a judge rejected dismissing the first-degree murder charge against Cristian Fernandez.
Fernandez's trial is scheduled to begin March 4.
The T-U said it took Judge Mallory Cooper two months to make her decision to reject the defense team's motion to dismiss the charge against Fernandez.
The judge's ruling rejects the defense's argument that determining a possible sentence for Fernandez if he is convicted would be impossible under Florida law after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that juveniles being sentenced to mandatory life in prison without parole for murder falls under the constitution's protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
The T-U said the judge sided with prosecutors, agreeing that the sentencing range set out by the legislature prior to it enhancing the penalty to mandatory life in 1994 could be revived.
Our news partner said the pre-1994 range for first-degree murder is 25 years to life in prison.
Fernandez was already indicted by a grand jury prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Miller v. Alabma, the T-U said.
Fernandez is accused of killing his step-brother David by slamming him into a bookshelf. Fernandez's mother, Biannela Susana, already plead guilty to charges of aggravated manslaughter. The T-U said Susana is listed as a prosecution witness against Fernandez after she gave up her parental rights to Fernandez and his two siblings.
First Coast News