13-year-old denied murder count dismissal

Nov. 20, 2012 at 5:37 PM

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A defense motion to dismiss a murder charge against a Jacksonville, Fla., 13-year-old was denied, setting the stage for a March trial.

Christian Fernandez remains in custody, accused of first-degree murder in the March 2011 death of his 2-year-old half-brother, David Galarraga, the Florida Times-Union reported.

Duval County, Fla., Circuit Judge Mallory Cooper's decision Tuesday rejected a defense argument that determining a sentence for Fernandez, if he is convicted, is impossible under Florida law after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June sentencing juveniles to a mandatory term of life imprisonment without parole is an example of cruel and unusual punishment proscribed by the U.S. Constitution, the newspaper said.

The defense argued Fernandez would be denied his rights under the Constitution's due process clause, and said it was unable to determine how to proceed because they were unclear of the potential punishment.

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