Angela Corey, the special prosecutor Gov. Rick Scott appointed to handle the Trayvon Martin shooting case, has a reputation as a tough-on-crime state attorney who has the distinction of prosecuting the youngest murder defendant in Jacksonville history, 12-year-old Cristian Fernandez.
Cristian is accused of savagely beating his 2-year-old brother, David Galarriago, to death. If convicted, Cristian faces life in prison.
One advocate has started up a petition to remove her from office over the case, but Corey appears highly popular in Duval County. Critics say she might have misled the public by charging Cristian as an adult and thereby subjecting him to the prospect of facing life in prison.
"Corey is known throughout the Jacksonville community for her lock-the-kids-up-and-throw-away-the-key approach to juvenile crime in Florida," says the website Justice 4 Juveniles. "In 2010, the Florida Times Union reported that the number of juvenile felony cases tried in adult court had doubled under the reign of Corey ["230 juvenile felony cases went to adult court in 2009, twice as many as in past years"].
Corey resented the petition and the criticisms and issued a lengthy press statement that outlined her reasons for charging Cristian**
Corey has also clashed with the local press, specifically Folio Weekly, which reported that some of her employees at a Christmas Party felt pressured to sign petitions for her re-election. Corey reportedly shot back, claiming the publication libeled her and insulting the looks of one of its reporters.
"I understand why she is what she is," Corey raged, according to this blog post. "I understand her need to spit venom. I do. I finally saw her for the first time."
**Corey's biggest p.r. battle, though, is Cristian's Case. Here's part of her statement:
"The juvenile system is limited to 18 months to possibly 3 years confinement followed by aftercare until the age of 21. The juvenile period of confinement is inadequate for these very serious charges and as to aftercare, this young man literally has no family to which he can be returned to help facilitate rehabilitation.”
“One concern that has been mentioned by several people is ‘Why isn’t the mother responsible?’ We are vigorously prosecuting Cristian Fernandez’s mother who will be held accountable for the lion’s share of this blame. Even considering all of the mitigation, Cristian Fernandez too must be held accountable. Children are taught at an early age not to bite, scratch, or kick ~ surely basic concepts understood even by those who grow up in difficult environments. However, though that does not excuse crime it does mitigate punishment in some cases. This is the reason we have been working so hard towards a solution that will both punish and rehabilitate this young man.
“The misinformation being circulated, primarily by persons who do not live in Florida, who do not understand our laws, and who do not know all of the facts, is rampant and I hope to correct those misimpressions now by issuing this statement.”