Mother of Michael Hernandez testifies in resentencing hearing
Hernandez convicted of killing best friend in middle school bathroom
MIAMI – The resentencing hearing for Michael Hernandez has resumed a day after he testified and apologized to the family of his former best friend, whom he killed in 2004 when they were both 14.
Hernandez, now 26, originally received a mandatory life sentence for the stabbing death of Jaime Gough in a bathroom at Southwood Middle School.
Hernandez's mother took the stand Friday in an attempt to have her son's sentence reduced, but she was shown evidence that she had never seen before, including a journal with the names of people he wished to kill and a list of materials he needed, such as gloves and a knife.
Prosecutors said his own sister was on his hit list.
His mother acknowledged she was a hands-off parent and blamed puberty for her son's withdrawn and private behavior.
Despite the evidence against him, Hernandez's mother insisted that he needs help and not more prison time.
"I don't think that they're able to provide the type of mental health facilitation that he needs and that a 14-year-old should be treated as an adult," Kathy Hernandez said. "I believe the sentence had to believe life without parole because that was the law at the time. I believe to tack on an additional 30 years was a little excessive."
Gough's mother told reporters outside the courtroom that she understands Kathy Hernandez on some level.
"As a mother, I feel sorry for her, but I think still she's in denial," Maria Gough said.
Hernandez's attorney said his client is worth saving.
"Michael is not irretrievably damaged," Manny Alvarez said. "Michael can be saved and is worthy of being saved."
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.
"A life sentence could be appropriate because he is the worst of the worst," prosecutor Gail Levine told Local 10 News after the hearing.
The judge is expected to make his decision Feb. 22.
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