Monday, January 2, 2012

Jacksonville State Attorney Angela Corey is inconsistent in her prosecution of crimes

Jacksonville State Attorney Angela Corey is notoriously tough on juvenile crime, but many have wondered if her stance on crime extends to adults. So I decided to take some time and dig a little into her office's history of prosecution. I wanted to see what kind of over-the-top charges adults were being given seeing as how she is seeking to put a 12 year old child in prison for the rest of his life (without any option for parole).

Instead of finding what I was looking for, I discovered something worse: inconsistent treatment of adult offenders under Angela Corey's office when compared with her office's handling of juvenile crime.

In 2010, Jessica Martin was arrested in response to driving under the influence. She was driving a pickup truck at the time and crashed into a van carrying 11 people. The crash resulted in the death of 49 year old Moses Hughes Jr. and severely injured four children. This wasn't Martin's first DUI charge, either. It was her second.

Was she given life without parole? No, she was not. She was sentenced to 18 years in prison, with an additional 10 years of probation. She knew it was a crime to drink and drive as she had been arrested for it previously. Yet somehow the death of one man and the serious injury of four children was not deemed as significant as the one Corey would like to believe 12 year old Cristian Fernandez perpetrated.

In late 2009, Jannette Ramos was charged with manslaughter for the drowning of her 19 month old son. The boy drowned in a retention pond. Neighbors testified that the young boy had gotten out of the apartment a number of times before, suggesting negligence on the part of his mother. Despite evidence that it took the mother 15 minutes to notice her son was missing, her sentence was significantly less harsh than the one Corey wants to give to Cristian. The case was prosecuted through Angela Corey's office by Assistant State Attorney Alan Mizrahi.

In 2011, Ramos was sentenced to 15 years in prison and an additional seven years of probation. Her remaining children will be grown before she emerges from prison; however, the fact is she will be released. If convicted on February 27 of 2012, Cristian will not.

Jessica Rivera was charged in Duval County, under Corey's office, with manslaughter for the death of her 13 year old child. The girl was found nearly brain dead, severely malnourished, and covered with lice. The police informed the media that the mother "admitted to them she hadn't cared for her daughter." A police report revealed that Rivera felt her daughter was "a burden".

The maximum sentence for manslaughter in Florida depends on the classification. The maximum for the harshest manslaughter charge is 30 years in prison. However, a number of people charged with manslaughter under Angela Corey's office have received 15 years.

It is disturbing to think that in the state of Florida people with a history of multiple DUIs are only charged with manslaughter when they kill someone, but a 12 year old child is facing the harshest sentence possible for minors (since the death penalty is no longer an option).

I wonder how Angela Corey would respond to a question regarding these inconsistencies. It's not as though she can say she was just doing her job. After all, her job is to protect the public and people with multiple DUI offenses are pretty dangerous. If you don't believe me, just look at the number of people killed as a result of alcohol induced accidents. In 2009, 10,839 people were killed in drunk driving accidents. It was estimated that "one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurred every 48 minutes in 2009."

So in the eyes of Angela Corey, a twelve year old child is more culpable than an adult with multiple DUI offenses or an adult who knowingly neglects and/or abuses his or her child to the point of death. Disturbing, isn't it?

There are no excuses for Corey's handling of Cristian's case. She knew what she was doing when she sought an indictment for murder and the felony charge of aggravated child abuse. She knew the maximum sentence was life without parole. She knew the only way Cristian could escape such a consequence was to accept a plea deal that would brand him a killer for life - . Corey did not allow Cristian's case to go to juvenile court in a willful abuse of power. Nothing more. Nothing less.

If you are appalled at her handling of Cristian's case, or by the inconsistencies in prosecution demonstrated by her office, sign this petition. And take a moment to share it with others.