The tragic saga otherwise known as the Cristian Fernandez case approached a new level of injustice on Friday when Florida Judge William Wilkes denied the defense's most recent motion. The defense was trying to block State Attorney Angela Corey's attempt to indict Cristian on another charge.
Corey is known throughout the Jacksonville community for her lock-the-kids-up-and-throw-away-the-key approach to juvenile crime in Florida.
In 2010, the Florida Times Union reported that the number of juvenile felony cases tried in adult court had doubled under the reign of Corey. Though some might argue this approach is effective in solving the community's persistent crime problem, numerous studies paint a very different picture. In 2009, the University of Texas at Austin released a comprehensive analysis of the practice of trying children as adults. The authors of the study wrote, "The practice of treating children as adults for criminal justice purposes also poses serious risk to the individual child. The research unequivocally shows that children prosecuted as adults are more likely to re-offend and to pose a threat to society."
In the past, Corey has claimed that it was never her intention to subject 12 year old Cristian Fernandez to life in prison. She expressed confidence that the State Attorney's office and the public defenders office would reach a plea deal. The defense rejected the plea deal because it required Cristian to carry a murder conviction on his record for the rest of his life - something that would seriously inhibit his ability to find employment or a place to live upon release. Another problem with the plea deal is that it exposed Cristian to possibly having to serve three of the last years of the sentence in an adult prison.
Though Corey informed the public and the media she never intended for Cristian to serve a sentence of life in prison, a trial date for Cristian was subsequently set for February 27 of 2012. If convicted, the mandatory sentence is life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Due to Corey's recent handling of this case, an advocate for Cristian started a petition to remove Angela Corey from office.
But that's not all...
In response to the defense's rejection of the State Attorney's plea, Angela Corey informed the media that she would be seeking an additional indictment for the alleged sexual molestation of one of Cristian's sibling. According to a brief made available by the Florida Times Union, Corey knew about this allegation earlier this year. She has made no effort to seek an indictment on this charge until now. The timing is highly suspicious in light of Corey's statements and behavior relating to this entire case.
Corey has claimed the additional indictment for Cristian was necessary to protect the victim. The question is: why didn't the victim matter in March and April of this year?
Cristian has an extensive history of physical and sexual abuse that is well documented. The Florida system has failed Cristian and his siblings in countless ways. Corey continues to contribute to this egregious failure by making it her personal mission to destroy Cristian's life and rob him of any chance at rehabilitation in the juvenile system. The kicker of this recent ruling is that the judge is not requiring the grand jury hear about Cristian's background and the factors contributing to the events in this case. An appeal of that ruling is almost certainly guaranteed.
Angela Corey's efforts to mislead the public did not stop with her claim she was never seeking life in prison for Cristian. On December 12, Corey made the following erroneous statement to the media: "In the juvenile system, we can only incarcerate or have him contained for not even two years, and that is not an option to protect the community. However, we understand at his young age he deserves a chance at rehabilitation. The plea deal we have offered would combine those two things."
This false and inaccurate statement did not go unnoticed, however. In response to this claim, the Southern Poverty Law Center, released a statement in an attempt to set the record straight. In the statement they referred to Corey's claim by saying, "This is just not true." The statement went on to add: "Florida law grants the juvenile system broad discretion to handle the treatment and rehabilitation of children like Cristian, including the power to detain a child as long as necessary to protect public safety." The statement contained additional information about the ability of the juvenile justice system to treat and rehabilitate Cristian.
So why did Angela Corey mislead the public? Why is she making false statements to the media? More importantly, why is the media printing this information without providing readers with the facts?
Why is Corey so bent on destroying one boy's life and placing the public in harms way at a later date because of her actions?
We may never know...However, if you're curious perhaps you can give Corey a call or shoot her an email to inquire about it. Be careful not to take what she says at face value though. As you can see from her past actions, she does not always provide all of the facts.
Angela Corey's phone number: 904-630-2400
Angela Corey's email: firstname.lastname@example.org