Earlier this year, Florida 12-year-old Cristian Fernandez was arrested for beating his 2-year-old brother David. The next day, the toddler died of his injuries. An investigation found that the boys’ mother Bianella Fernandez waited over six hours to take David to the hospital and did not call 911 prior to doing so. Had she acted sooner, its likely that the child would have survived. David had been left in his brother’s care despite the fact that Cristian had broken his leg while wrestling with him only two months prior. Bianella was also arrested and claims that she was online researching David’s injuries instead of taking him to receive medical care.
Forensic psychologists who evaluated Cristian found that he was “emotionally underdeveloped but essentially reformable despite a tough life.” The boy was placed in foster care at the age of two, along with his then 14-year-old mother, after he was discovered dirty and naked wandering a hotel parking lot by himself; the grandfather who had been his guardian at the time was changed with drug possession and neglect. Last year, Cristian’s stepfather shot himself to death in front of Christian and David in order to avoid abuse charges stemming from an assault that left Cristian with an eye injury. David was discovered by police covered in his stepfather’s blood. Cristian’s mother claims that the Department of Children and Family Services placed her kids on a waiting list for counselling, which she requested in order to help them cope with traumatic events of their young lives. There is also evidence that Cristian had been sexually abused in the past as well.
This summer, Cristian was indicted for first degree murder in David’s death. The prosecution was granted a gag order on all parties involved, citing concerns about being able to “fairly” try the case if jurors had been swayed prior to trial. On July 22nd, the child was charged formally with the crime as an adult. As a result, he is facing life in prison. There is enough ‘wrong’ here to drive a sane person mad. This child was born to a child, abused throughout his young life and failed by the state systems that were made aware of his abuse and legally obligated to protect him. And now it seems that of all the players involved in the death of young David, this 12-year-old boy is poised to pay the dearest cost.
A Change.org petition was created by Melissa Higgins, a New Hampshire-based youth justice advocate, in hopes that Florida State’s Attorney Angela Corey will try Cristian as a child, not an adult. His next hearing is tomorrow and the court will evaluate the results of a third psychological examination.
To sign the petition, click here.