Insanity defense planned for teen in middle school slaying
By Associated Press
Published August 25, 2004
MIAMI - An attorney for a 14-year-old boy charged with fatally slashing a classmate in a school restroom told a judge Tuesday he will pursue an insanity defense.
Defense attorney Richard Rosenbaum said eighth-grader Michael Hernandez is mentally ill and incompetent to help with his defense on charges that he killed 14-year-old Jaime Gough and plotted the killing of a 13-year-old classmate at Southwood Middle School.
Gough was killed Feb. 3. Hernandez had blood on his clothes and a bloody knife in his backpack when he was arrested in class after the Palmetto Bay school was locked down.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Henry Leyte-Vidal delayed deciding whether the murder and attempted murder charges should be combined for a single trial.
"There is going to be an insanity defense," Rosenbaum said as he renewed a request for public funds for the defense. Hernandez's parents testified about their shrinking assets as their son, blank-faced, looked straight ahead.
The teenager faces an automatic life prison sentence if convicted by a jury of first-degree murder.