Thursday, September 18, 2008

Father testifies at son's murder trial

Sentinel Staff Writer
4:33 PM EDT, September 18, 2008

A "good child" who played Little League baseball became an emotionless loner and compulsive health fanatic in the six months before he killed a middle school classmate, his father testified Thursday.

Michael Hernandez had been a typical boy who played sports and had friends who visited the house, Jesus Hernandez said.

But in the summer of 2003, when the boy was 13, he withdrew from friends and family, his father said.

"He didn't seem to want to go to dinner with us on weekends or auctions (with me) like he had gone to before. He basically wanted to stay in his room," said the elder Hernandez, 60, who ran a business liquidation business.

"He wasn't making eye contact with us," he said.

Michael Hernandez, now 18, is accused of murdering Jaime Gough in a bathroom stall at Southwood Middle School in Miami in February 2004. He also is charged with attempting to kill another classmate, Andre Martin.

In a videotaped confession played for the jury Monday, Hernandez, then 14, described slashing Gough's throat and stabbing him. He also said he had tried to lure Martin into the same stall a day earlier to strangle and stab him.

He faces life in prison if convicted. His trial was moved from Miami because of extensive media coverage.

Defense attorney Richard Rosenbaum has argued that Hernandez was and is insane and not criminally responsible for the slaying.

Prosecutors have said Hernandez meticulously planned to kill Gough, Martin and his own sister.

Jesus Hernandez said Thursday he was surprised when police presented him with his son's journal, in which the teen detailed plans for the three killings.

Police had found the journal in the teen's backpack with a knife and bloody latex gloves.

"We never in our lives thought he was capable of such a thing," he said. "He was raised as a loving child in a loving family."

Michael Hernandez developed elaborate rituals, such as eating the same sandwich for lunch every day and riding his bicycle for a half-hour after dinner, rain or shine, his father said.

Jesus Hernandez said he and his wife thought their son was just going through an adolescent transition. The teen asked his parents for permission to use body building supplements, which were approved by a doctor. He consistently got good grades, but his parents broached the subject of getting him psychological help in the fall of 2003.

He said his son refused to talk to a psychologist, and the family agreed to revisit the issue in January 2004.

His son's strange behavior continued up to his 14th birthday on Feb. 2, 2004, the day before Gough's slaying.

"It was the first day he didn't want a birthday party," Jesus Hernandez said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

when they said that they where going to get him help, instead of letting him tell them what to do, they should have told him what he was going to do, and maybe they would have saved a life. this kid wanted to murder these people on his birthday as some kind of gift to himself... people take your children's mood swings very serious. if they all of a sudden change their life styles, you change the way you react to it. it may be more than just adolescence.