February 1, 2012
The story of Cristian Fernandez is mournful. Born to a 12-year-old mother, Biannela Susana, the stars were not aligned in his favor. Susana was sexually abused by Jose Antonia Fernandez who ultimately went to prison and hadn’t seen Cristian in over five years.
At ages 2 and 14 respectively, Cristian and Susana entered the social service system as foster children. Cristian was found running around nude in front of a South Florida hotel while his 34-year-old grandmother was allegedly inside doing drugs.
As a former public health physician and employee of the State of Florida, I know the system well. If you attempt to make a referral to the social service programs, they would not ask about the patient’s problem, they inquire about the zip code in an attempt to turf her to someone else. If you called the Hotline for suspected abuse, they rejected the case for nefarious reasons even if there was suspicion of an unsafe household.
Attorney General Pamela Bondi wants to try 12-year-old Cristian as an adult for killing his 2-yer-old brother. He didn’t shoot him with a gun. He didn’t stab him with a knife. He knocked him unconscious when he shoved him against a bookcase in a fit of anger. He was home alone at the time babysitting. Cristian alerted Susana who came home immediately but didn’t bring the toddler to the hospital until 4 hours later. Had she brought the child in sooner, he might have lived. But Susana was probably afraid to bring him in because six months prior to his death, he was treated for a broken leg as a result of “wrestling” with Cristian.
Several questions beg answers regarding that emergency visit. Did the nurse, physician or hospital administrator call the authorities to report the 2-year-old’s injuries? Was an incident report made? In October 2011, the toddler and Cristian witnessed the suicide of his stepdad with a 9 mm gunshot to the head. The stepfather was allegedly being investigated after Cristian incurred a black eye. When Susana attempted to obtain family counseling after the suicide, she was placed on a “waiting list.”
Trying Cristian as an adult serves no purpose other than fulfilling a political agenda. He would be the youngest first-degree murderer in the history of Jacksonville. I urge the federal government to withhold tax dollars to the State of Florida for social services until a full investigation is done. Certainly Susana bears responsibility for her son. But the State could have done a better job as well. Every mistake has a lesson. How many does Florida have to make before they finally learn?