JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – According to the Department of Justice, Florida has one of the highest numbers of juveniles facing long sentences.
One child looking at that prospect is Cristian Fernandez, the youngest murder suspect in the history of Duval County.
His story and the state's statistics have made local courtrooms the focus of an international documentary.
Very little has changed in the case of the 13-year-old Fernandez, except the faces in the courtroom. Among those new faces are some French filmmakers, who are in the River City to film a movie about the boy.
Fernandez was 12 years old when he was arrested last year.
"It is unusual to see a trial for kids of 12 years old," one producer said. "That's why we're coming, just to show the whole thing and to understand what's going on here."
Fernandez could potentially get life in prison if convicted, a sentence the film producers say doesn't exist in France or Europe for juveniles. They will use his story as a segue into the premise of their film: "Our Juvenile Justice System."
"It's an example to see how other countries deal with juveniles doing horrendous and heinous crimes," said Tony Headley, of T&C Film.
Fernandez is accused of beating his 2-year-old half brother to death. The 90-minute French documentary will follow his trial through the entire process.
A status conference for Fernandez was held in court Thursday, but for the French film crew, it was the beginning of journey.
"From this case we are going to approach all the issues around juvenile lifers here in your country," the producer said.
Jury selection for Fernandez's trial is scheduled for June 25.