Fla. State Attorney charges 12-year-old as an adult for murder

‘Worse treatment than a dog would get’

October 15, 2011
Christian Fernandez

Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit Court State Attorney Angela Corey was most known for being among the right-wing candidates elected in 2008. Her first order of the day was the firing of dozens of attorneys, investigators and state employees under her command.

She is currently gaining notoriety by charging Christian Fernandez, a 12-year-old, with first degree murder for the death of his younger half-sibling, David, who he pushed and who subsequently ended up hitting his head. Corey exemplifies the anti-worker, racist court system under capitalism.

Christian is the youngest person in Florida to be charged with first-degree murder.

“Cristian must still be held accountable,” argues Corey, who was originally seeking life in jail but has since backtracked.

Corey claims she was in no way influenced by 160,000 signatures in a petition campaign, organized by Change.org, that pushed for Christian to be charged as a child.

Accountability under capitalism means that if you are a worker or from an oppressed community your chance of doing jail time is far greater than war criminals in the White House and the Pentagon or thieves on Wall Street. Even children cannot escape this rule of the rich.

The Fernandez case is a message to poor and working people to watch out as any person could suffer the same fate. Corey certainly is poised as the state attorney to send this message.

Christian Fernandez lives in Jacksonville, Fla., one of the 10 urban areas with the highest official unemployment in the United States. He has struggled as a survivor of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Right after birth, he ended up in foster care as his 12-year-old mother was unable to care for him. Last year, Christian watched as his stepfather committed suicide to avoid charges of abusing him.

Christian and David’s mother, Biannela Susana, 25, has been vilified in the media for “surfing the net” resulting in her delay in bringing her injured son for medical attention. Susana did visit websites, but focused her searches on how to best evaluate her son’s medical condition. Unfortunately, David Galarraga later died of head injuries from being pushed into a bookcase by his half brother. Susana is being charged with aggravated manslaughter.

Susana was arrested in early April and placed in the Duval County Jail. She was unaware that her eldest son was an inmate in the same jail, because the prison system wouldn’t allow her to visit him. Later in the summer she wrote him a letter still not knowing he was in an adult prison, and the prosecution tried to get a copy of the letter to use as evidence in the case.

Susana slammed the prison system after she discovered that Christian was previously held in adult isolation, saying it was “worse treatment than a dog would get.”

As of early October, Public Defender Matt Shirk said that “we’re very close to resolving the matter.” However, how that result impacts Christian and his mother is unclear.

Lessons can be gained from this case even before its closure. The court system is an arm of class oppression that must be torn down and replaced with a system of workers’ justice that prioritizes the needs of people. Another lesson that State Attorney Corey might resent is that the mobilization of working and poor people is the only way to win this new system.

Content may be reprinted with credit to LiberationNews.org.

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