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Judge will have to decide if man serving life sentence for murder deserves chance at parole because he was 16 when he killed

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today there's no question that Antonio Fernandez is a murderer, but ordered a Norfolk Superior Court judge to consider whether he should one day get a chance at parole because he was only 16 when he fatally shot another teen celebrating his graduation from high school in 2002.

The court said Fernandez deserves at least a hearing on the question under a Supreme Court ruling that minors cannot be automatically sentenced to life without parole without at least a hearing.

According to the court, Fernandez, at the time a Roxbury resident, and two friends rolled into Brookline and asked a group of kids celebrating Perry Hughes's recent graduation from high school if they had any marijuana. The request turned into an argument, threats were exchanged, but Fernandez and his friends biked away. Then:

It took the defendant about fifteen seconds to ride in the vicinity of forty-five feet away from the victim and his friends. At that point, having moved away from the scene of the confrontation, the defendant, unprovoked, stopped and put his bicycle down. He turned to one of his friends and said, "Fuck that shit." The defendant then pulled out a handgun, cocked it, and began making his way back toward the victim. The victim had not moved, and his hands were in the air; he was not holding anything. The defendant stated, "I don't shoot the fair ones," pointed the handgun at the victim's chest, and fired. The bullet struck the victim in the center of his chest, passing through his left lung and heart before leaving his body. The victim collapsed nearby, bleeding profusely from his chest. The defendant ran away laughing. He and his friends fled the scene.

Fernandez then fled to New York, where he was arrested three days later.

Prosecutors proposed charging him with second-degree murder, which would have meant a chance at parole after 15 years, but he rejected that and had a trial before a jury, which convicted him of first-degree murder.

In its ruling today, the state's highest court rejected his current lawyer's request to toss the case altogether, saying he had gotten a fair trial, but said he deserved a hearing on the appropriateness of the sentence, which does not allow for parole, because of his age at the time.

Pursuant to our holding in Diatchenko, 466 Mass. at 658–659, the defendant's life sentence remains in force, but the exception then present in G. L. c. 265, § 2, rendering him ineligible for parole, is no longer applicable.

PDF icon Complete Fernandez ruling131.47 KB


I sure hope he stays behind bars.

Voting closed 45

He just won't have any excuse to complain about it.

Voting closed 18

I condemn people to lifelong punishment for problems created by circumstances I will never have to experience. If you haven't experienced the fear that brings children to carry guns shut your mouth. Prison is an abomination to human freedom, poverty an insult to humanity. If you actually cared about being a moral person, you would focus on the systemic causes that bring people to this, not condemning victims of a cycle you were lucky to have not been born into.

Voting closed 20

Is he at a point where society should have mercy on him and let him out? Does he have remorse for depriving another person of their life and thereby affecting those who knew him? What is the risk to society of letting him out?

Prison might be an abomination to human freedom, but what about Perry Hughes' freedom, which was deprived of him 16 years ago by a deliberate act on the part of Mr. Fernandez?

There's one person's morality that is key, and it isn't StillFromDorchester's.

Voting closed 21

What was he afraid of when he went back, threatened, then murdered an unarmed man? In 2002?

Was he afraid that he would smack him with his high school diploma? Throw hamburgers at him with his hands in the air?

Stop spewing generalized talking points at specific situations. This kid is a psychopath and a cold blooded killer. He wasn't afraid of shit - he was full of himself and he murdered someone.

Voting closed 7

The legal point is very simple. The Supreme Court ruled minor death penalties unconstitutional. Then they ruled minor life-without penalties unconstitutional. Then, they made it retroactive to all minors sentence to life-without.

So, legally, there's no question about it. He gets a shot at a parole hearing. This does not mean he's getting out next year.

He may be Morgan Freeman in Shawshank, but he is entitled to the hearing.

Voting closed 6

Of course this guy deserves a parole hearing at some point. Number one, he was a minor at the time, and number two, this was not a premeditated murder. Should we really keep in in prison for like 60 or 70 years? Maybe, but maybe not. He should at least have a chance to redeem himself at some point. The Supreme Court ruled that no minors should get life without possibility for parole, for very good reason.

Voting closed 4

Disadvantaged, confused, didn't take plea deals thinking they could convince a jury etc.

Voting closed 8

Voting closed 5

Voting closed 6

Get the facts straight on exactly what happened, before you believe what you read. 2 kids lives were ruined and one stands a chance.

Voting closed 13

I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole.
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading, I denied
That leaves only me to blame 'cause Mama tried

Voting closed 12