On February 3, 2004, eighth-grader Jaime Rodrigo Gough was stabbed to death in a second-floor bathroom by classmate Michael Hernandez, both boys were 14. A fellow student found his lifeless body in a bathroom stall at which time the school went into lockdown. Parents who found out from other parents gathered in front of the school.
Late in 2015 the convicted student’s case was brought back to court for a re-sentencing.
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Answer the following:
What occurred (background of case)?
Did the school administration respond appropriately to the incident?
Was security an issue at the school?
Were there any “red flags”?
Did the victim precipitate this crime?
What changes, if any, in security would you suggest?
Is violent crime a common occurrence in schools (local/Florida/nationally)?
What would be the appropriate punishment for the offender?
Was justice served?
BE SPECIFIC. EXPLAIN.
Please answer the questions fully and concisely in your own words, in essay (APA) format. Be sure to use standard English, spelling and grammar.
The essay paper should be a minimum of 1000 words.
You must use your textbook and at least two other scholarly articles to support your position/findings.
Include a cover page and a reference page.
Use a minimum of 3 references. References must be listed on a separate page.
Assignment should be prepared as a Word document (only) and then submitted through the dropbox.
Essay format means the paper should contain an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
Michael Hernandez Murder Case
School safety in America has always been a concern for many stakeholders within the education process. This is because, within America, there has been an ever-present threat of school shootings, increased violence spillover in public schools, and other forms of safety hazards. This is especially important when considering the state of affairs in lower-income neighborhood public school safety: the Southwood Middle School, the epicenter for the February 3rd, 2004 gruesome murder of J. Gough. J.G was a friend of Hernandez, who unknowingly agreed to join him into the washroom. Once lured into the bathroom, 14-year old Hernandez went ahead and slashed, J.G, also a 14-year old. In the ensuing struggle, J.G acquired more injuries and a poke with a knife in the face once he was dead. Hernandez had a hit list, which included another student, who he was supposed to kill the previous day, but his plans failed because the student was unable to enter the washroom with him.
There numerous non-concerning red flags were witnessed in the change of Hernandez’s behavior in the previous year, mainly, by his family members. From a year earlier, Hernandez had grown apart from his family and was increasingly decentering from aspects of life he initially considered vital to him and his family. According to his father and mother, Hernandez was no longer interested in stereos or learning to drive a car. Instead, he grew to be obsessed with being fit (Marrero and Schwartz, 2004). This is an aspect that both his parent talked to Hernandez about and stressed when they reviewed his state the previous year. Nonetheless, not a single person was able to realize that there was something seriously wrong with him (Marrero and Schwartz, 2004). Hernandez had become obsessive with a great body at a young age to the point that his mother had become concerned over his compulsive obsession.
Kathy Hernandez had sought to bring in a psychiatrist. Marrero and Schwartz (2004) identify that even his mother thought that his behavioral change was fit for the military as that is where he would have significantly adapted. Marrero and Schwartz (2004) cited Kathy Hernandez, the mother of the suspect, talking to the detectives describing Hernandez’s behavior as “strange” and “regimented-type behavior.” All these were recorded interviews by detectives who questioned the Hernandez family.
After the murder of Gough (J.G), Hernandez was found by another student washing hands. The student inquired whether Hernandez had seen the lifeless body, he replied in the affirmative, and went to class. In contrast, the other student went to report the matter to the school (Michael HERNANDEZ, Appellant, v. The STATE of Florida, Appellee. No. 3D08–2892.) It was later revealed that Hernandez had prepared a hit list that included J.G, A.M (the student he tried to kill first on February 2nd 2004), and his 19-year-old sister. In the case of Michael HERNANDEZ, Appellant, v. The STATE of Florida, Appellee. No. 3D08–2892., detectives who question Hernandez specified that Hernandez was using J.G and the other classmate as an entry point for future murders once he was 18-years-old. Hernandez confessed to the murders. Detective also concluded this after they found one latex glove and a bloodied windbreaker on his belongings that same day.
In the post-arrest and pretrial period of the case, Hernandez’s lawyer applied Rosenbaum sought the case to be dismissed since the prosecutors were not forthcoming and cooperating with the defense attorney. In the pretrial motions, prosecutors identified to the Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Henry Leyte-Vidal that this was a matter of procedure and that the police evidence took four to six months to compile and record (Valdemoro, 2004). Hernandez’s attorney and mental experts Weiss and Barry Rosenfeld intervened, aiming for a dismissal of trial. Valdemoro (2004) identified that the experts told the court that Hernandez was not mentally stable. As such, a first-degree murder trial was not the case for him.
Instead, Rosenbaum, the suspect’s attorney, wanted first, a bail hearing and a speedy trial so that the jury might be lenient with the suspect and see him as a 14-year-old and not a 6 feet tall adult (Diaz, 2004). Researchers Neubauer and Fradella (2019) identify that high crime trials usually take place over a longer period. This is why Rosenbaum, the suspect’s attorney, was seeking a speedy trial in which the matter would be heard and decided of in a short period. This was instead of a prolonged trial where the suspect would grow older and lack sympathy with the jury.
Many schools in the US face numerous cases of insecurity. Balko (2018) identifies that while schools in America are statistically considered the safest places in the US, they are nonetheless also considered among the most unsafe schools in the OECD countries. Southwood Middle School serves a largely minority community. Public School Review (2020) identifies that the largest demographic in the school were Hispanic, then Black and a minority White and Asian. Neubauer and Fradella (2019) identify that in most minority communities, there are higher incidences of insecurity spread across the board. This would ideally include schools. It is important to consider that Florida was the host to the largest and one of the latest mass shootings in the history of America, the Parklands shooting. In February 2019, within the same school, two students aged 12 and 13 years old, were also arrested for threatening to kill their teacher on social media (4 CBS Local Miami, 2019). This implies a recurring insecurity problem in public schools not only in the Miami region but larger Florida area.
There are standard school procedures in incidents where a student or a teacher had been killed or injured. USC School of Social Work (2019) identifies that first, the school needs to inform law enforcement, create a crisis plan, and inform the teachers. This is followed by a face-to-face meeting with the students and subsequently a statement for the parents. The Southwood Middle School responded appropriately to the incident, informing the police and also cooperating with all stakeholders in the community around it. The best way to deal with insecurity in school is to increase community involvement in school decisions. That is, increase parent-teacher-student involvement within the school (Howard, 2017). While many may argue that increased policing within the school would be the best way forward, researchers have identified otherwise. Howard (2017) identified that police presence in schools (SROs) works to have a negative impact on the students as police have been recorded to increasingly criminalize children’s behavior, especially in black and white communities. This inadvertently antagonizes teachers and other stakeholders with the students.
Hernandez’s case ended in second sentencing. The Supreme court upheld the first sentencing to life in prison. Schools in America remain predisposed to violence due to a lack of partnered cooperation between all the stakeholders. This creates a further probability of violence. Owing to the admission of guilt, and admission of planning future murders. Precipitated preparations for murder and lack of clear motive to warrant Hernandez action in the killing of Gough, I believe that justice was served and that the justice system played an effective role in keeping Hernandez behind bars. The suspect had the ability and motivation to research on how to murder and went ahead and tried to kill two of his friend, the second attempt being successful. His behavior does not adequately fit the category of insane, just lack of human compassion that may have been impacted on him by his experiences.
Balko, R. (2018). Putting more cops in schools won’t make schools safer, and it will likely inflict
a lot of harm. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the- watch/wp/2018/02/22/putting-more-cops-in-schools-wont-make-schools-safer-and-it- will-likely-inflict-a-lot-of-harm/
Diaz, M. B. (2004, May 11th). Judge refuses to dismiss the murder trial of a boy, 14. Retrieved from https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/sfl-0511murdertrial-story.html
Howard, T. (2017). Why Are We Criminalizing Black Students? Retrieved from
Marrero, D., & Schwartz, N. (2004, May 13th). Warning signals missed, family says. Retrieved from https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/sfl-0513gough-story.html
Michael HERNANDEZ, Appellant, v. The STATE of Florida, Appellee. No. 3D08–2892. (2004). FindLaw’s District Court of Appeal of Florida case and opinions. Retrieved from https://caselaw.findlaw.com/fl-district-court-of-appeal/1626010.html
Neubauer, D., & Fradella, H. (2019). America’s Courts and the Criminal Justice System (13th
ed.). Boston: Cengage Learning.ISBN-13: 9781337557894.
Southwood middle school profile (2020) | Miami, FL. (2014, August 30th). Retrieved from https://www.publicschoolreview.com/southwood-middle-school-profile
USC School of Social work. (2019). Guidelines for Responding to the Death of a Student or School Staff. Retrieved from https://www.schoolcrisiscenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/ncscb-guidelines-responding-death-student-or-school-staff.pdf
Valdemoro, T. (2004, July 23rd). Experts: Teen not fit for a murder trial. Retrieved from https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/sfl-0723teenmurder-story.html