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Southwood Middle Killer Michael Hernandez’s Trial Lawyer Speaks Out About His Death

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CBS4's Joan Murray spoke with Richard Rosenbaum, who is sharing new information on Hernandez’s life and death. Read more: https://cbsloc.al/3b0YaKB

Video Transcript

- He was very positive. He was very hopeful not the type of situation where he would take an attempt on his life.

- Right now at 5:00, new questions tonight after a convicted killer is found dead inside his prison cell. Michael Hernandez was serving a life sentence for the death of his 14-year-old classmate Jaime Gough back in 2004 when he died last Thursday. CBS 4's Joan Murray spoke to his defense attorney about his sudden death.

JOAN MURRAY: One of the people who knew Michael Hernandez best his trial lawyer here in Fort Lauderdale. And he's sharing new information about Hernandez's life and death.

RICHARD ROSENBAUM: It's just heart wrenching, I mean, this case started with the tragedy. It ended with the tragedy.

JOAN MURRAY: Richard Rosenbaum was Michael Hernandez, his attorney when he stood trial for killing his 14-year-old classmate Jaime Gough. But over the years, he became a close family friend.

RICHARD ROSENBAUM: I spoke to him maybe two days before.

JOAN MURRAY: That was two days before Hernandez died at the North Central Florida prison where he was serving a life term.

RICHARD ROSENBAUM: He was very positive. He was very hopeful not, the type of situation where he would take an attempt on his life.

JOAN MURRAY: While some sources have said Hernandez may have died of a drug overdose , that is not what Rosenbaum said he was told when he contacted the prison.

RICHARD ROSENBAUM: 9:41, the night before the guards were doing their general inspection and that they found Michael slumped over.

- That was very shocking for us.

JOAN MURRAY: On Sunday, Jaime Gough's parents said they were thinking of Hernandez's family who were grieving his death.

MARIA GOUGH: Because I know this feeling how painful it is to lose a child.

JOAN MURRAY: We've learned Michael Hernandez, his father who was at his son's sentencing hearing five years ago died last year. And that Michael's mother Kathy and his sister are headed to the prison to identify the body.

RICHARD ROSENBAUM: She was on antipsychotic medication.

- Rosenbaum told us Hernandez was being treated for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

MICHAEL HERNANDEZ: And I wanted to apologize to him, to his mother, his father. I didn't always feel this way.

JOAN MURRAY: He does believe Hernandez was sincere when he apologized to Gough's family during his sentencing hearing in 2016.

RICHARD ROSENBAUM: Since Michael had been in, he received a certified law clerking license. He'd been trying to get whatever programs the Department of Corrections offers. Although, they've been limited.

JOAN MURRAY: In fact, Rosenbaum was appealing Hernandez's life sentence and said it showed promise.

RICHARD ROSENBAUM: I don't believe this is drug related.

JOAN MURRAY: After Michael Hernandez died, the Miami-dade state attorney's office said, "Jaime Gough's brutal murder ended a promising young life and forever scarred his family. I have always felt Michael Hernandez's family were also Michael's victims. My sympathies to both families." Rosenbaum said those words touch Michael Hernandez, his mother, and sister.

RICHARD ROSENBAUM: Children should not be getting life in prison for something they do when they're 14 years old. They should get help not punishment.

JOAN MURRAY: Hernandez's death investigation goes on. His family is making arrangements for burial while they wait for answers on exactly how he died. In Fort Lauderdale, Joan Murray, CBS 4 News.