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Protesters to rally for boy murder suspect

13-year-old charged as adult in half brother's killing

Cristian Fernandez is awaiting trail on a murder charge.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dozens of protesters are expected to show up in front of the courthouse Wednesday morning to protest 13-year-old Cristian Fernandez being tried as an adult in the killing of his 2-year-old half brother.

Fernandez was supposed to be in court Wednesday for a hearing, but it was postponed.

Ralliers say that's not going to stop them from coming out in full force at 7 a.m.

Alicia Torres spent her day off Tuesday making signs for the rally. Her son went to school with Fernandez for a few months. They barely knew him. But she visited the boy when he was in solitary confinement and feels compelled to stick by his side.

"He doesn't have any family here," Torres said. "All his family is in the Dominican Republic. Someone has to step up and let everyone know that this is wrong."

Torres said Fernandez is a child and should be treated like one.

"I'm a mother and I guess I have a different level of compassion than most people," Torres said. "I see things differently. I don't see my 13-year-old as being an adult, and I don't see Cristian as being an adult, so I don't think he should be tried as one."

Fernandez faces a charge of first-degree murder in his half brother's death, and he's also charged in a separate sexual assault case involving his stepbrother.

"People need to remember that in this country, you're innocent until proven guilty, and it seems that everybody's assuming that he's guilty until proven innocent, and that's not the case," Torres said.

She said she'll spend the morning at the courthouse with other supporters and signs. They will also be releasing 13 orange balloons, the color of Fernandez's jumpsuit, and two baby blue balloons in honor of his brother, David Galarriago.

The balloon release is supposed to signify hope for Fernandez to be released from juvenile detention and into a rehabilitation center.

Torres said she'll then hand-deliver a 178,000 page petition to State Attorney Angela Corey's office, saying Fernandez should not be charged as an adult.

"Why end two lives? It's not right," Torres said.

"The juvenile system is not equipped to deal with juvenile murderers or moderate term confinement," Corey said in response. "We stand to do the right thing. We've said all along we are not seeking life in prison."