Friday, 22 July 2011

Prosecutors concerned about possible visit between Cristian Fernandez, mom Prosecutors worry about collusion in murder case against 12-year-old boy.

A 12-year-old boy charged with murdering his toddler half brother in a Jacksonville apartment might be allowed to visit with his mother.
But prosecutors are concerned about granting contact, because the mother also is in jail and the two are being tried separately for the 2-year-old's death.
Both Cristian Fernandez and his mother, Biannela Susana, were in court Thursday morning for pretrial hearings.
Fernandez is the youngest person in city history to be charged with first-degree murder. His mother is charged with manslaughter, because police say her negligence contributed to the death.
State child-welfare workers are trying to strip Susana's parental rights. The mother and son might be given a visitation as part of dependency proceedings, lawyers working on the criminal case said.
Prosecutor Mark Caliel said in court Thursday that he was concerned about collusion if the two were given a chance to meet. He said he didn't want them to have a chance to get a story together that would help them defend themselves.
The criminal and child dependency cases are subject to a gag order, meaning the lawyers are not allowed to answer reporters' questions after the hearings. Before the gag order, attorneys involved said the two would be kept apart due to those concerns.
The Public Defender's Office is trying to lift the gag order. Circuit Judge Mallory D. Cooper said she'd hear arguments at a later date.
No trial date has been set for Fernandez. His next pretrial hearing is Sept. 1.
He was being held in isolation at the Duval County jail until Chief Circuit Judge Donald Moran had him transferred to a juvenile facility last month.
Caliel said as many as 35 witnesses are eligible to be called in Susana's case. Some would be expected to elaborate on medical evidence in the case.
Susana's next court date is Aug. 16., (904) 359-4025

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