No prison time for mother of 12-year-old who killed half-brother in Jacksonville manslaughter case

A Jacksonville mother charged with manslaughter and child neglect for waiting to take her unconscious son to the hospital was sentenced to probation and counseling this month, despite prosecutor’s hopes of locking her up for 15 years. The sentencing wraps up the criminal portion of the case involving Cristian Fernandez, whom the state charged with first-degree murder at age 12 for crushing his 2-year-old half-brother with a bookcase, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Biannela Susana returned home from a quick errand to find her young son injured and tried to research the injuries, among other things, while waiting hours to take her young son to the hospital, the newspaper reported. Had she brought him earlier, he may have survived, doctors have testified in this Jacksonville Manslaughter Case. The sentence was issued last week, a month after an all-day hearing where both sides stated their case. Prosecutors wanted 15 years for Susana, but the judge went in an entirely different direction.

Susana was sentenced to 10 years, but the judge opted to suspend the sentence, the newspaper reported. She was also given credit for the more than two years she spent in jail awaiting the resolution of her Jacksonville Manslaughter Case so, technically, she’d have less than eight years left to serve. The judge ruled that Susana’s need for immediate mental health counseling that she could not receive in prison outweighed the threat of her being a danger to the community, the newspaper reported. She will spend 90 days at a domestic violence shelter and then two years at a halfway house to get life skills training and mental health counseling, the newspaper reported. She will remain on Duval County probation for the remainder of the 10-year-sentence. A local nonprofit that helps at-risk girls has agreed to hire Susana once she meets the other requirements. If Susana violates any of the terms of her release, she could be sentenced to serve the rest of her sentence in prison.

Cristian pleaded guilty to manslaughter as well, along with Jacksonville aggravated battery, and was sentenced to time in a juvenile jail. He’ll be released when he turns 19 and will be on probation for another eight years. The judge has the latitude in Jacksonville Manslaughter Cases to break up the sentence however he or she chooses. While it is rare for no prison time to be issued in a Jacksonville Manslaughter Case, this case is inherently different, with a 12-year-old initially charged with first-degree murder and his mother charged for her role following the injuries. Probation can often be a trap for defendants, with the state eager for a violation to get another shot at prison time. This seems to ring especially true in this case, where prosecutors were openly critical of the sentence for Susana, the newspaper reported.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Manslaughter Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.