Michael Hernandez apologizes to victim's family during resentencing hearing

Prosecutor chastises convicted middle school killer during cross-examination

MIAMI – Convicted middle school killer Michael Hernandez took the stand Thursday during a hearing to determine whether he will receive a new prison sentence for the 2004 murder of his best friend when both were 14.

Hernandez, now 26, originally received a mandatory life sentence for the stabbing death of Jaime Gough in a bathroom at Southwood Middle School.

The new hearing was mandated because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that juveniles could not automatically be sentenced to life without the chance of parole. The decision was later made retroactive to older cases.

Hernandez stabbed Gough 42 times inside a school bathroom.

A tearful Hernandez apologized to Gough's family and another friend whom he planned to kill the day before Gough's murder.

"I had to learn over the years how wrong it was, what I did, and how much pain I caused you, and I'm sorry," Hernandez said.

Hernandez said he had an intellectual appreciation for death metal music.

Hernandez's attorney asked him why he spoke to a pen pal about serial killers and violence.

"I was very nervous, you know, leading up to talking to her," Hernandez testified. "I never talked to, you know, a female over the phone. So I didn't know what to talk about, you know. My life, you know, being incarcerated, is very mundane, so I tried to think about what can I talk about, what can I, you know, fill the conversation up with and, you know, I knew because of the way she reached out to me and various things she had said in her letters that she had an interest in crime."

Hernandez told the judge that he hopes to get married and have children.

Assistant state attorney Gail Levine chastised Hernandez during cross-examination for his ability to cry on cue.

"How'd you muster up those tears?" Levine asked Hernandez.

"I feel horrible about what I did," he answered.

Thursday was the second day of the three-day hearing in a Miami-Dade County courtroom.

Much of Wednesday's hearing focused on how Hernandez was obsessed with becoming a serial killer as a teenager and continued his fascination in prison. Hernandez's father testified that his son needs mental health help and would do better outside prison walls.

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