MIAMI – (CBS4) – When an 11-year-old boy played hide-and-seek in Opa-Locka, he thought he found the perfect hiding spot: underneath an abandoned sofa trashed next to a dumpster.

At that same moment, a 49-year-old man with a gun wanted to shoot a couple of rounds to ring in the New Year.

The result of those two actions came to a tragic conclusion on the night of New Years Day of 2008 when Zenon Fernandez fired into the sofa, heard an agonizing moan and realized he had shot a child.

The case went before a jury and in November, they returned a guilty verdict against Fernandez. He was charged with manslaughter and Friday a judge sentenced him to spend the next 10 years behind bars.

On the night of New Year’s Day 2008, police say Fernandez parked his car on Port Said Road armed with a semi-automatic gun and a desire to test it.

Fernandez shot into the abandoned sofa, believing it would be a safer alternative than firing into the air, his attorney Jeffrey Feiler said.

Joshua’s family members had pleaded with the state attorney’s office to increase the charges. But the state said manslaughter was the toughest charge the law allows.

“For manslaughter all you have to do is show that your actions were reckless, that you didn’t take ordinary care,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle soon after Fernandez was charged. “Which is unlike your other murder cases, with other murder cases you have to be either be doing a felony, a robbery where somebody dies, or you actually intended to kill somebody.”

Family members spoke to CBS4’s Peter D’Oench at the time and expressed the pain of losing Joshua.

“We saw my little brother dead on the floor,” said Marvin Arroliga. “I would do anything to bring my brother back, but I can’t.”

By the time help arrived, Joshua was dead. That help did not apparently come from Fernandez, whom police say ran after he realized what he had done. He changed his mind, and later turned himself in to the North Miami police department.

Fernandez’s attorney Jeffrey Feiler said it was an unforeseeable accident

“When bullets are flying they go a long, long way and there’s no telling what’s going to happen,” he said. “A ricochet, where it’s going to end up… who it’s going to hit”

But prosecutors said he committed a criminal act, even if he didn’t intend to hit anyone.

“It’s unacceptable to be shooting a loaded gun where people could get hurt and people do,” assistant state attorney Scott Warfman said. “People do get hurt.”

Ironically the Arroliga family knew the suspect and his son.

“I used to say to him and stuff; I was very respectful to him,” said Marvin Arroliga. “I knew his son; his son used to come to my house and play all the time.”

Marcos Enareno, Joshua’s father, said through a translator, “I feel bad. I just hope that justice does what it deserves for the man that did it. He’s an irresponsible man. If it was up to me, they could give him all his life in jail. My son represented my life to me. I still don’t believe it.”

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (12)
  1. Phil Landers says:

    I believe this judgment is correct. There was no intent, only stupidity on the shooter’s behalf. So what is it with the ——— running away from their irresponsibility all of the time. I had an accident involving a injury once and I ran TOWARD the person and did my best to help them.

  2. Me says:

    We Americans who were born and raised in the US do not shoot guns like wild animals. If you come to the United States, take some time to learn America’s values, ethics, and cultures. On New Years Eve, we usually gather with friends and drink and have fun without shooting guns.

  3. Laura says:

    I agree with Tommy but in a different manner. Me, you’re obviously judging the person only by their ethnicity. Here is some constructive criticism for you: Stop being so racist (which is a huge problem in today’s world), grow up, go learn some manners, and re-read the story. This is about a 49 year old male, that was obviously stupid enough to shoot his gun carelessly, and unfortunately killed a little boy. If you want to start blaming people’s stupidity on their ethnicity, I am MORE than happy to name you a few white, American people that are/have made stupid decisions. Oh, and by the way, I’m sure none of your fellow white people have drank , as you say is a proper festive activity for a New Years celebration, driven drunk and accidentally killed someone, right????

  4. Lou D. Phillips says:

    aybe he can get some ENGLISH lessons while sitting in prison for 10 yrs. What piece if trash!! That’s what happens when you have pieces of trash like this come to AMERICA and infest our town and degrade it like they did their own town and think it’s o.k. to break the law, drive over people and then flee the scene, be inconsiderate as most people are in mi-jami and the #1 clincher of everything, 95% of these ingrates can’t speak a lick of ENGLISH!! It was funny to see this piece of trash in the courtroom get sentenced and he needed a translator to tell him the sentence. Immigration should’ve deported back to his country-permanently withut any possibility of return. Does anyone speak the ENGLISH language anymore in mi-jami???

  5. Laura says:

    Apparently my previous comment goes for Lou D. Phillips as well… Another disgraceful idiot. It’s obvious that the real “ingrates” are you and those just like you, Mr. Phillips. I can only feel bad for you.

  6. Freddy Hill says:

    I agree with Lou. Why is it that anytime someone brings to light that the people that come here from South America are causing Miami to become a cesspool are called ingrates by other posters. Their argument is the only Americans are the Native Americans… whites… blah blah blah. Only Cubans and South Americans use this backwards logic. Don’t feel bad for citizens that want Spanish only speakers to learn English. You should be ashamed of yourself if you have lived in Miami since 1960 and still don’t know a lick of English or care to learn the language of the county you reside in.

    You Spanish only speakers SHOULD spend more time reading English than shooting up your neighbor-hoods that is VERY PRODUCTIVE…not.

  7. G. Hill says:

    News flash….Laura your the only idiot on this comment board along with all the other idiot women that live in this town. Why don’t you get off your stupid Iphone and stop listening to glen beck, because your becoming brainwashed and you don’t think other people can voice their opinion. Laura, I really couldn’t care less about what you think about me or what I write, because apparently you don’t understand that we have the 1st Amendment which gives me the right to post any comments that I wish to post and voice my opinion about stories that matter to me. Your the ingrate just like this piece of trash that shot into the sofa and killed this boy. Freddy Hill is absolutely correct, people can’t face the truth in mi-jami, start learning ENGLISH and stop shooting up your own neighborhoods. The AMERICANS can voice their opinion also, everything will change when luther campbell becomes mayor of dade county, all of this hispanic trash that litter county hall will be put in the garbage receptacle.

  8. J0hn Stuart says:

    Let us expand on this tragedy. Same shooter, same gun. Only this time he is shooting into a couch where a felon is hiding from the police for just raping a nine year old girl. Shooter kills rapist with same gun. Do we put him in jail or give him a medal? Think about it.
    I don’t have the answer.

  9. Tony says:

    Well the way it sounds to me is that if you intentionally want to kill someone and not get caught then you would “PLAN” your murder so no one will know that you did it, am I right or am I wrong? It’s pretty stupid to slay someone and then go surrender to the Police afterwards. So it is obvious to me that this man who shot this kid didn’t do it intentionally. I do know that in the Dominican Republic for Christmas and for New Years Day they fire with a gun which is ok to do over there since it’s permitted but not in a Country where the Law is completely different. So if this man wanted to slay someone why would he do it to a little kid and not an adult and for a purpose? There wasn’t any….This really sounds to me he didn’t know that someone was hiding on that couch when he fired the gun. And then again why fire 14 shots when all you need is one bullet to kill someone? So there was no intentions on killing that boy since he didn’t plan anything to make it look like someone else done it. Neither did he tried to fake it to make it look like he didn’t do it since it’s a gun registered under his name so why not use a different gun if he actually wanted to kill him and get away with murder?? It was his gun and he fired the shots and his ignorance caught him and gave him a new name “GUILTY” when he wasn’t looking for it intentionally.