Reporter Notebook: 12-Year-Old In Shackles

Cristian Fernandez Arraigned On Charge Of First-Degree Murder

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As 12-year-old Cristian Fernandez walked into court Wednesday to be arraigned on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of his 2-year-old half-brother, everyone was quiet.

He was handcuffed and appeared to be shackled, but you could not see the chains.

The boy did not look scared, but walked over to his attorney and did not say anything until Circuit Judge Libby Senterfitt talked to him. Everyone else in the courtroom was an adult, many of them were with social service agencies.

I asked around to see if any relatives were on hand. There was one woman who chose not to talk.

This is a case that both the state attorney and the public defender talked about without any problem since Fernandez was indicted last week. Both sides gave us background on the boy's upbringing and what could have led to the crime, so it came as a surprise when the prosecutor asked for the judge to issue a gag order.

Information from the principals in the case will now only come from proceedings in open court. That doesn't mean that Channel 4's reporting on the case will stop. Court records and people outside the legal proceedings who knew Fernandez or his mother -- who is also facing charges in this case -- will continue to provide details into the family's tortured life.

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