Trigger warning for sexual assault, abuse, neglect, drug use, murder
Biannela Susana was sexually assaulted by a 25-year-old man. At 12 years old, she gave birth to Cristian Fernandez. When Cristian was 2 years old, he was found wandering around the streets of south Florida at 4 in the morning, naked and dirty. His grandmother was at a nearby motel doing cocaine, and his mother - all of 14 years old at that point - was nowhere to be found.
When Cristian was 8, the DCFS investigated a report that his cousin had molested him.
When he was 11, his stepfather punching him in the face so hard that his school sent him to the hospital to check for retinal damage. He told them what had happened to his face. By the time police arrived at his house, his stepfather has committed suicide with a gunshot wound to the head.
Less than 6 months later, Cristian’s 2-year-old half brother died at the hospital. His mother admitted she had left Cristian alone with her other children. When she came home, the toddler was unconscious. She googled “unconsciousness” and texted some friends. Eight and a half hours later, she took the little boy to the hospital, where he had a fractured skull and a bleeding brain. When the police questioned Cristian, he admitted that he had had a flashback to his stepfather’s abuse and became angry, which resulted in the toddler hitting his head on the wall. When the police questioned Cristian’s 5-year-old half brother, the little boy said Cristian had sexually abused him.
The Supreme Court ruled that a juvenile can’t be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Cristian is 13 years old and facing two felony charges.
It’s just… it’s unbelievably sad. Of course, sad that a toddler died, directly from his older brother’s abuse and indirectly from his mother’s neglect. But really, every part of this story is sad. We, as a society, let Cristian slip through the cracks. We let a 12-year-old give birth to a baby conceived in assault. We only briefly took away two children from a cocaine-addicted and neglectful guardian. We let a young boy get molested by his cousin, beaten by his stepfather, and start abusing his own siblings before he even hit puberty. And I would bet money that the reason his mother took 8 hours to get to the hospital was because we let this family go without adequate health insurance.
I don’t think Cristian should get life in prison. I think he should get treatment for a lifetime of terrible things. I think we, as a society, owe him a second chance at life.