Boy's attorneys stall grand jury indictmentState attorney tries to bring more charges against 12-year-old murder suspectJACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
Attorneys for a 12-year-old murder suspect stopped the state attorney's plan to indict the boy on more charges Thursday afternoon.
Public defender Matt Shirk said he drafted a motion within 24 hours to make sure State Attorney Angela Corey couldn't pursue another indictment against Cristian Fernandez, who's accused of killing his 2-year-old half brother.
Shirk said he's pulling out all the stops for Fernandez, and he bought the boy more time Thursday by stalling the process at the last minute.
"The grand jury was here. It was waiting. Judge Wilkes stayed that proceeding and indicated that they were not allowed to go to the grand jury until after he ruled," Shirk said.
Shirk attacked the state attorney's new charges, claiming Fernandez is too young to be faced with a crime that's not a homicide and receive a sentence of life in prison.
Fernandez is already set to head to trial on a first-degree murder charge in February.
At a hearing earlier this week, Corey made it clear that she fully intended to pursue an indictment on the new charges.
"The filing of formal charges is something we need to do to protect our second victim," Corey said Monday. "It's my obligation to that victim, and it's my obligation as a prosecutor."
Corey didn't specify what those charges are, just that the second victim was a family member.
Assistant State Attorney Mark Caliel said that prosecutors had held off on the indictment of additional charges against Fernandez because they had been negotiating a plea deal since June at the request of the public defender.
Caliel said prosecutors are disappointed that Shirk would change everything at the last minute, just prior to Thursday's proceedings.
Grand jury proceedings are kept secret, but Shirk said that if he can help it, the charges, although already presented in evidence, will never be heard.
"This is part of that process," Shirk said. "We intend to fight tooth and nail for Cristian. We're all he has, and we're going to do everything we can to protect him and do what's in his best interest."
Shirk said the 12-year old accused of beating his 2-year-old brother to death is a victim.
"Everything that has happened in this little boy Cristian Fernandez's life is tragic. It's a tragedy all the way around," Shirk said. "This entire process is tragic, and Cristian himself is a victim, has been his entire life."
Regardless of Shirk's efforts, it's up to a judge to determine if the charges will be heading to the grand jury.
State attorneys have five days to come up with case law and submit orders to pursue the indictment. Shirk said he hopes that gives the state attorney's office time to reconsider.Read more here