FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – One of the people who knew Southwood Middle School killer Michael Hernandez best was his trial lawyer.
Richard Rosenbaum is sharing new information on Hernandez’s life and death.READ MORE: 'Greatest Show On Earth' Circus May Return Without Animals
“It’s heart wrenching. You started with a tragedy and ended with a tragedy,” he said.
Rosenbaum was Hernandez’s attorney when he stood trial for killing his 14-year-old classmate, Jaime Gough. But over the years, he became a close family friend.
“I spoke to him two days before,” the Fort Lauderdale-based lawyer said.
That was two days before Hernandez died at the Columbia Correctional Institution where he was serving a life term.
“He was positive, hopeful. Not the type of situation where he would have attempted to take his life,” Rosenbaum said.
While some sources have said Hernandez may have died of a drug overdose, that’s not what Rosenbaum said he was told when he contacted the prison.
“We were told guards looked in on him at 9:41 and they found Michael slumped over,” he said.
On Sunday, Gough’s parents said they were thinking of Hernandez’s family, who were grieving his death.
“I know what it’s like to lose a child,” said Maria Gough.
CBS4 learned that Hernandez’s father, who was there at his son’s resentencing hearing five years ago, died last year. Also, Hernandez’s mother and his sister are headed to the prison to identify the body.
“Yes, he was on anti-psychotic medication,” Rosenbaum said.READ MORE: California Man Arrested In Alleged Matt Gaetz Death Threat
Rosenbaum told CBS4’s Joan Murray that Hernandez was being treated for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
He believes Herandez was sincere when he apologized to Gough’s family during his resentencing hearing in 2016.
“While in prison, he received a law clerk certification and was doing what he could do better himself,” Rosenbaum said.
One person who Doesn’t believe Hernandez changed is Andre Martin. He was a classmate attending Southwood at the time of the killing and was on Hernandez’s so-called hit list.
He believes he escaped Jaime Gough’s fate.
“It’s easy to be apologetic and remorseful when your freedom is on the line,” he said.
Martin is now a Miami-Dade PD detective.
“This crime occurred when I was 13, which is a formative age and this was a traumatic and intense situation for any human being to go through, much less a teenager,” he said.
Rosenbaum was fighting to get Hernandez’s life sentence reduced up until his death. He said an appeal showed promise.
“I don’t believe it’s drug related. I’ve been surprised before in my 37 years, but it would shock me,” he said.
In a statement, the Miami-Dade State Attorney, “Jaime Gough’s brutal murder ended a promising young life and forever scarred his family… I have always felt that Michael Hernandez’ family were also Michael’s victims… My sympathies to both families.”MORE NEWS: 21 Haitian Migrants Make It To Shore At Haulover Park
Rosenbuam said those words touched Hernandez’s mother and sister.