Judge grants temporary suspension of terms for probation for Cristian Fernandez

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — One of Jacksonville's youngest killers is about to get out of jail.

Cristian Fernandez was 12 when he killed his 2-year-old brother.

As part of a plea agreement, the state agreed to release Fernandez after he turns 19, which will happen on Sunday. Officially, he’ll be released on Monday, Jan. 15.

During a status hearing on Wednesday, Fernandez’s attorneys, Hank Coxe and Buddy Schulz, requested a temporary suspension of the terms of his probation and they got it.

Fernandez was not in court.

Coxe would not elaborate on why he requested a temporary suspension but said that trying to enforce the current terms of Fernandez’s probation would be “unrealistic and problematic.”

“I'm not going to elaborate on the circumstances but it is such that it would be, I would characterize it as almost a meaningless exercise to enforce these conditions, both general and specific," Coxe said in open court.

The terms of Fernandez’s probation include maintaining employment or enrolling as a student and continuing counseling or treatment.

Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson said the focus now is on helping Fernandez succeed in the real world.

“My thought is that he’s been evaluated, he’s ready to be returned to open society like the rest of us live and he will have a guardian ad litem attorney in place to assist him,” Carson said.

The case has been moved to the 8th Judicial Circuit in Gainesville after State Attorney Melissa Nelson recused herself because of her role on Fernandez’s defense team before being elected to public office.

The new prosecutor, William P. Cervone, joined Wednesday's status hearing via telephone.

Neither Coxe nor his wife, Mary Coxe, who serves as Fernandez’s guardian ad litem, wanted to comment following the brief proceeding.

All parties are due back in court on Feb. 15 for a re-evaluation of the terms of probation.