JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Thirteen years old and wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, Cristian Fernandez walked into court Thursday.
He's accused of murdering his little brother last year, and sexually abusing another child. While the crimes are very adult in nature, there's a question about just how much the little boy really understands about what's happening around him.
Cristian's attorneys take issue with videotaped interviews. They want some potentially incriminating statements Cristian made thrown out as evidence. They wonder if the then 12 year old made the statements on his own, or if he was coerced by investigators.
Several of those investigators took the stand Thursday. However, much of their testimony was closed to the public, as were additional portions of the Cristian's interviews.
Judge Mallory Cooper watched and listened herself. And it will be up to her to decide how much this accused killer understands of the legal process, and to make sure his constitutional rights are being protected.
That's one of several motions filed by Cristian's defense team. Another involved the subpoenas issued to the Public Defender's office. Those subpoenas were quashed, meaning public defenders will not have to testify about the short time they represented Cristian.
Public Defender Matt Shirk said, "One of the most important and sacred privileges in the law is the right to be able to speak freely with your lawyer without having to worry about having that information divulged. So that's the heart of the argument here today."
Cristian Fernandez is set to go on trial on sexual battery charges on August 27th. His murder trial is set for September 10th.
His mother, Bianella Susana, pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter earlier this year for her role in her youngest son's death.