JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Did Jacksonville's youngest murder suspect understand his rights? Did Cristian Fernandez make incriminating statements to police, not realizing he had the right to have an attorney present? That's what a judge is trying to determine right this minute.
Videotaped interviews with detectives are at the center of the latest controversy surrounding the Fernandez case. His defense team questions how much he really understood, when he was read his Miranda rights after his March 2011 arrest.
Child psychologists testified, not much. And when you see him in court reading a comic book, you're reminded of just how young he is. Psychologist Marty Beyer said, "In general, children 14 and younger do not comprehend their Miranda rights."
Psychologists described Cristian as book smart, but emotionally stunted. And while Cristian originally told police he understood his rights, psychologists suggested he was probably just doing what he thought he was supposed to do. After all, he was just 12 years old at the time.
"My opinion is that it reflects his not comprehending the right that anything he said could be used against him in court," said Beyer.
Now Cristian's defense team wants whatever potentially incriminating statements he may have made thrown out as evidence. The prosecution believes that would be a mistake, and that potential jurors deserve to hear everything the accused killer with the baby face had to say.
Cristian Fernandez is charged with the murder of his 2-year-old brother and the sexual assault of another 5-year-old boy. Testimony continues tomorrow.
He is set to go on trial on sexual battery charges on August 27th. His murder trial is set for September 10th.
His mother, Bianella Susana, pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter earlier this year for her role in her youngest son's death.