• Action News Jax Investigates: Documents show terms of Cristian Fernandez's probation could change

    By: Bridgette Matter , Action News Jax


    One of Jacksonville’s youngest killers is set to be released on probation next month.

    But new court documents obtained by Action News Jax show the terms of Cristian Fernandez's probation could be changing.

    Action News Jax investigator Bridgette Matter also learned the State Attorney’s Office asked for the case to be reassigned.

    In 2011, then 12-year-old Cristian Fernandez killed his 2-year-old brother. 

    Fernandez, who had a heartbreaking upbringing of neglect and abuse, in a plea agreement was committed to the juvenile justice system in hopes of rehabilitation.

    Fernandez, who will be 19 next month, is scheduled to be released and begin an eight-year probation period under his plea deal. According to a new document we obtained, it suggests there could be a modification to his probation.

    A new motion said counsel may seek modification of some of the conditions of probation imposed in the criminal proceedings in order to allow various agencies and Fernandez to effectively deal with the issues that have developed over the past several months in Fernandez’s life. 

    Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson tells me that statement could mean much more. 

    “Cristian Fernandez is having some sort of difficulty, and I suspect that has in part to do with a transfer as a status of a prisoner into an open environment,” Carson said. 

    We asked the department of corrections, both adult and juvenile, where the now 18-year-old Fernandez is currently being housed but they couldn't tell us.

    Court documents reveal Fernandez was transferred to St. Johns Youth Academy in St. Augustine in August.

    When we reached out to the State Attorney’s Office, we were told it asked the governor’s office to reassign the case because of a conflict.

    State Attorney Melissa Nelson was on Fernandez’s legal team and was part of the negotiations to get him a plea to serve his time in a juvenile facility rather than face a possibility of life in prison.

    Carson said this case and Fernandez’s behavior could play a big role in decisions about the teen’s future.

    “This will set a baseline for handling these sorts of cases,” Carson said.

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