It seems likely that 12-year-old murder suspect Cristian Fernandez will not be offered a plea deal.
This means the boy, if convicted, could be in prison for the rest of his life.
On Monday, a judge in Jacksonville, Fla., set February 27, 2012, as the trial date for the youngest person ever to be charged as an adult with first-degree murder in that city.
Fernandez is accused of pushing his 2-year-old brother David so violently into a bookshelf that the youngster never woke up and could not be saved by the time he got to the hospital.
The prosecutor had offered a plea deal several weeks ago. Under that deal, the boy would have to admit to murder. Then, when he turns 21, he could be set free.
But for Fernandez’ defense team, that deal is unacceptable for two reasons: it would mean their client would have to admit to murder, and that it's possible Fernandez would have to spend the final three years of that sentence in an adult prison. The defense had been hopeful that the state attorney would come back with a new plea deal offer, but that has not happened.
Fernandez’ mother, who was 12 years old when she became pregnant with Cristian, is also being held in prison without bond. She’s charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child, culpable negligence, because an investigation by police of her laptop shows a Google search for “when some (sic) gets knocked out” at 10:54 a.m. Then “concussions on children” at 2:38 p.m.
Those searches were followed by activity checking the family bank account, downloading of music, and then, finally, at 3:07 p.m., the first search for the location of “St. Luke’s Hospital, Jacksonville, Florida.”
A doctor at the time told detectives that had the 2-year-old been rushed to the hospital immediately, he could have been saved.
The evidence -- not all of which is open to the public -- was weighed by a grand jury, which determined 12-year-old Fernandez should be tried as an adult.
Also in court today, the boy’s defense attorneys made a brand new motion to have the judge dismiss the entire felony murder case, saying the conditions of these charges is not applicable.
Both Cristian Fernandez and his mother, Biannela Susana, remain held without bond.
Prosecutor Angela Corey previously told Fox News “Yes, I have compassion for Cristian Fernandez , but it's not my job to forgive, it's my job to follow the law.”
As for the mother, two of her four children are now in Florida foster care. One is dead and the other goes on trial for first-degree murder less than two months from now.
Phil Keating joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in March 2004 and currently serves as FNC's Miami-based correspondent.