Prosecutors Appeal Ruling by Judge in Fernandez Case; Police Interrogations of the Murder Suspect, Then 12, Were Tossed Out

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Byline: Jim Schoettler

Prosecutors are appealing a Duval County judge's ruling that tossed out police interrogations of Cristian Fernandez in the murder and sexual battery cases against him, which will delay both trials.

Assistant State Attorney Mark Caliel told Circuit Judge Mallory Cooper in a brief hearing Monday that the notice of appeal was filed with the 1st District Court of Appeal. Caliel's office also asked for stays in the Aug. 27 sexual battery trial and the murder trial that follows. Cooper, anticipating the stays would be granted, nixed those trial dates and set the next pretrial in the sexual battery case for Aug. 30.

Cooper granted the defense motions to suppress videotaped statements made during the interrogations after she ruled last week that Fernandez didn't comprehend his Miranda rights or the implication of waiving them.

Caliel and prosecutor Alan Mizrahi will work on the appeal with the Attorney General's Office, which will argue it before the appellate court. The appeal will be fought by a private team of defense attorneys already representing Fernandez, 13, who remains in custody.

Each side will file sets of briefs, while the defense is expected to file a cross appeal over Cooper's ruling that didn't toss a pre-Miranda conversation Fernandez had with two detectives when he was considered only a witness in the death case. …