Here is the link to the original blog article
Cristian Fernandez has been detained for almost one year at the Duval Regional Detention Center. As his one year anniversary looms near, his next pretrial hearing is approaching as well. The question on everyone’s mind is when Cristian’s trial will take place.
I have other questions. I wonder how old Cristian will be when a jury finally hears the real circumstances surrounding his brother’s death. I’m curious if State Attorney Angela Corey will, or already has, revised her original plea offer to the defense in an attempt to avoid trial altogether. The original offer was not acceptable because it potentially exposed Cristian to three years in an adult prison system and it would have forced him to carry a felony conviction for life, inhibiting his ability to find housing and employment later on.
Cristian’s previous public defenders, led by Matt Shirk, were right to refuse that plea deal. Though the plea deal has never been made public, just the information given through the media demonstrates how damaging it would have been to Cristian in the long-term.
As a contrast, look at the case of Blade Reed. He entered the Wabash prison system in December of 2009. He has been in and out of solitary confinement. He has been beaten, sexually assaulted, and has attempted suicide multiple times. He has only been there for a little over two years. What would become of Cristian in the adult prison system? Even if he were to go there when he was 18, until he was 21, what good would it do if he ended up like Blade? How would it ever help to protect society if he emerged from the juvenile system at 18, spent three years in an adult prison facility among hardcore criminals, and endured similar torment to that of Blade?
Surely any gains he would have made in a treatment program would be lost. And when I refer to gains from treatment I am referring more to the psychological help he needs for the sexual and physical abuse he has experienced more than anything else.
Angela Corey has options though. She could approach the defense with a plea deal where the judge agrees to withhold adjudication. We have already seen that Judge Mallory Cooper is a reasonable judge based on her decision to unshackle Cristian. She would likely agree to a plea deal that allowed Cristian to receive treatment in the juvenile facility, receive some sort of probation or monitoring through the courts until he was 21 (without having to serve any time in an adult prison, and this would have to be very clearly addressed), and then the most important element is that the judge would withhold adjudication. This means that even though Cristian would plea guilty to a crime, he would not technically be convicted of the crime. He would not carry the conviction on his record. The records would be sealed. This was done in a case involving a 12 year old girl named Arva Betts in 1989.
The alternative of not structuring a reasonable plea deal is that the case goes to trial and Angela Corey takes the unbelievable risk that Cristian could be acquitted. Another possibility is that a single juror will not believe the state has made its case, resulting in a hung jury. Knowing how Angela operates, she would certainly charge the taxpayers of Jacksonville, Florida to subsequently retry Cristian.
But it is quite a gamble Jacksonville’s State Attorney is taking. If she loses this case against a coalition of attorneys it will hurt her career. Moreover, it will pose questions as to her seriousness in terms of protecting the public. After all, if Cristian is as dangerous as she appears to think that he is then it goes without saying he needs treatment. Rolling the dice and risking an outcome that could result in his immediate release seems poorly thought out.
What’s it going to be, Angela? You told me you won’t move the case back to juvenile court. Fine. But are you really going to stake your career on a trial outcome?
With that said, I can’t wait to find out the date of this trial because I’ve got planning to do.