MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Prosecution and defense rested their case Friday afternoon in the re-sentencing hearing of the man who stabbed his classmate to death in a school bathroom.
Michael Hernandez, 26, was given a mandatory life sentence for the 2004 murder of Jamie Gough in a Southwood Middle School bathroom. Both were 14 years old at the time. Trial evidence showed Hernandez was obsessed with becoming a serial killer.
Judge John Schlesinger is expected make a decision and enter a ruling on whether to reduce Michael’s sentence on Feb 22nd.
At the conclusion of the hearing Gough’s father, George, said “It has been a stressful three days. It’s been really tough to go through the same thing again.”
Andre Martin, a former friend and classmate of Hernandez, told CBS4 News he believes Hernandez is incurable.
“I believe he is a danger not only to me and the Gough family, but anyone that he’s around,” Martin said.
Earlier on Friday, his mother and sister took the stand defending him- asking for his sentenced to be reduced.
His mother, Kathy Hernandez talked about the life of her son, covering his schooling, the neighborhood he grew up in and his daily behavior.
When asked when she started noticing changes to her son’s behavior Kathy responded, “I would say it was the summer of 2003….he started to be more withdrawn, not as much interaction with us. He started exercising. He started keeping his room spotless.”
She went on, “He started with some repetitive behavior, opening and closing refrigerators, just standing there looking side to side for a few seconds….He started doing it everyday.”
When asked if the repetitive behaviors caused her any concern, she said “They caused a lot of concern because it seemed he was just being more and more isolated not only with us… this happened over a gradual period of time.”
Kathy said her son was never taken to therapy.
Prosecution asked, “Michael had a bible collection in his room?”
“He did,” replied Kathy.
Prosecution went on, “And he also has a knife collection in his room?”
“He did. Yes,” replied Kathy. Silence followed.
Michael’s sister – Christina Hernandez- later took the stand and spoke about her childhood and her relationship with her brother.
“I couldn’t say anything negative about my childhood. I love my parents. I think that they are exceptional parents,” she said while fighting back tears. “I mean they’re very loving. They’re nurturing..very supportive.”
She said she had kept in contact with him since his arrest in 2004.
“I would send him birthday cards, Christmas cards, just holiday cards, but always try to send letters or have people …recently now that he’s had access to the phone I would talk to him on the phone,” said Christina.
“Are you afraid of him,” asked an attorney.
“No,” replied Christina.
The attorney later asked, “If he gets released 13 years from now, 20 years from now, 30 years from now, will you be there as a sister to support him?”
“Definitely,” said Christina. “I feel like financially I do, emotionally to give him the support and then as well just to give him my profession I feel like I have access to other medical professionals that I could be able to set up the appropriate levels of support for him.”
Prosecutors asked her about her brother’s mental state.
“If your brother was released because that’s what we’re talking about, whether he gets a life sentence or 40 years, your hope is that he would be released,” asked a prosecutor.
“Yes,” replied Christina.
“You believe he is mentally ill,” asked prosecution.
“Yes,” she replied.
“You believe he has schizophrenia,” asked prosecution.
“Traits of it. Yes,” replied Christina.
All this as Michael sat across from them in the courtroom. Their testimony comes just a day after Michael took the stand seemingly choking up as he apologized for what he did.
“I want to apologize to Jaime and I’m sorry for what I did to him. It hurts me how senseless it was because he was always such a good friend to me. I wanted to apologize to his family, him mother and his father, I didn’t always feel this way,” said Hernandez.
Were Gough’s parents impressed by Hernandez’s tearful apology on the witness stand?
“Not a bit,” Gough’s father said. “I think all of this was made up. I could look at his face and I don’t believe him at all.”
Hernandez said up until recently he suffered from delusions and was not thinking properly. He said he didn’t realize this until he began talking with a psychologist.
“I didn’t see how illogical it was for a while. After being told by everyone that I was wrong, and that what I was thinking made absolutely no sense, it made me think how could that be, how could I have let myself get so far off the mark,” said Hernandez. “I had a solid dose of reality when Dr. Rosenfeld was asking me about the the delusions I was having. We talked about the final one which was the world cleansing. He asked me whether I thought I could actually pull off killing all six billion people in world and it dawned on me just then, because I had believed it, it dawned on me how illogical that was.”
Hernandez’s attorneys hope to show that he suffers from a mental illness and which should mitigate a life sentence.
Hernandez was informed that after he’s re-sentenced, that term will be up for review in 13 years. Hernandez could still receive a new life sentence but would be eligible for parole after 25 years.