Paralyzed victim angry with light sentence given to defendant

- SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – After five years waiting for justice a family is angry with the results.
In 2009, Michael Fernandez was knifed while attending a party at a Taylorsville home.
It left him paralyzed. Five suspects were brought in for questioning. But only a 16-year old was charged. And the charges came five years later.
Thursday, Fernandez’ family claims the 16-year old pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. And they say the defendant who is now 20-years old was sentenced to a year in jail.

“Basically, he got a light sentence,” says Fernandez.

He attended Thursday’s court hearing in juvenile court. Fernandez was taken by ambulance and transported by gurney into the court room.
Fernandez says the defendant won’t be serving any time for his sentence. His mother says the defendant is already serving time in jail for an unrelated adult offense. She says it was a concurrent sentence, meaning both sentences will run simultaneously.

“I watch the news all the time and people do crimes and they pay,” says Maxine Fernandez. “But for him (Michael), like its nothing and I feel like his life was taken away from him.”

Prosecutors say they can’t comment about the case because it’s a juvenile matter. But according to Michael, identifying the suspects was difficult.

“I didn’t see anybody because it was dark,” he says.

And Fernandez says the suspects jumped him from behind.

“I got jumped by five guys,” he says. “A couple of them had knives. It (stabbing) was sides, back my neck.”

Since the incident Fernandez has been paralyzed and will never walk again.

“It really didn't hit for a minute,” says Fernandez. “Three or four weeks after the fact that I really knew my life was over.”

Now Fernandez spends his days lying on a bed. His mother takes care of him. She has no job and relies on Michael’s Social Security and food stamps. They share a small house and Fernandez’ bed is set in the main living room.

“I feel like I got the life sentence, not him,” he says. “He got away with a crime. There's nothing I can do about it now.”

The Fernandez’ say the judge did order the defendant to pay $50,000 in restitution. But with medical bills reaching over a million dollars they money won’t go far.

“I doubt we’ll ever see any of that money,” says Maxine Fernandez.

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