Advertisement
Advertisement

Baldomero Fernandez Trial

Updated Mar 25, 2024
Loading...one moment please loading spinner
Baldomero Fernandez Trial
The following article appeared in The Miami Herald on Saturday, November 21, 1987 on page 41:
MAN GETS 7 YEARS FOR KILLING NEIGHBOR
by Christine Evans Herald Staff Writer

Priests, police and teachers begged for leniency Friday, but a Dade judge sent Baldomero Fernandez - civic leader, churchgoer and murderer - to prison anyway. Circuit Judge Ronald Friedman called the case "one of the most tragic, difficult and unusual to come before me." Then he sentenced the frail defendant to seven years in prison with no chance of release until October 1989.

"I can never be happy after this" his wife, Lourdes, said later. "All that has happened, it is too much." A first-time offender at age 63, the popular West Miami man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the death of his next-door neighbor, James Escoto. The killing put an end to their three-year feud. The heart of the dispute was a 12-foot-wide swath of land. In a courtroom packed with the victim's family and dozens of his own supporters, Fernandez confessed to the killing but not to intent. He claimed temporary insanity.

"It never crossed my mind to do that," Fernandez told the judge. "The way I feel now, it's miserable. Sometimes I wish I could be the dead person." For Fernandez, the sentence was a victory of sorts, a chance to avoid trial and, possibly, death in Florida's electric chair. (continued on page 2c)

Originally arrested for second-degree murder, a grand jury last year upped the charge to first-degree, and Fernandez was jailed. Under the terms of Friday's plea, he faced between three and nearly 12 years in prison. For Escoto's family, seven years wasn't enough. "This man took a life, an important life, my son's life," said Olga Herrera. "He should go to trial. He should pay. Seven years is nothing. For a life, it is nothing."

Prosecutor Michael Band said he agreed to the plea bargain because he wasn't sure he could win the case in trial. Fernandez, he said, is a "sympathetic" character, a good man at heart. To the judge, attorneys described the strange, sad relationship that led to Escoto's death one year ago. For three years, police had made frequent trips to the Flagami neighborhood where the two men lived side by side. Eight, 10, 15 times they were called to settle disputes. Each time they left, unable to cool the rivalry. The hatred deepened.

"The events speak of the failings and failures of people and the system," Band said. "Two neighbors torn apart . . . two neighbors who appeared almost schizophrenic in their relationship with each other. Two seemingly mature people who took what seems like sadistic pleasure in creating a hell for one another." Escoto was 30. For a job, he nursed the paralyzed son of former Miami Dolphin linebacker Nick Buoniconti. For fun he liked motorcycling, scuba diving, hunting, fishing, and pets. He kept five black baby chicks in a box, a Burmese python in a cage and a moray eels in a salt water aquarium.

Fernandez was a retired bellhop. He loved his family, his church and his privacy. He volunteered time to the PTA, the Boy Scouts, the carnival at St. Dominic's Catholic Church. At first, the disputes were small. Someone threw eggs at Fernandez' door He blamed Escoto. Escoto stayed up late, threw bottles and shot off guns for fun, Fernandez complained.

Someone slipped an obscene photo into Fernandez' mailbox. His children saw it. Again, he blamed Escoto. Then there was the land, a skinny strip that separated their homes. Fernandez thought it belonged to him. Escoto said, no, it was public property, and he parked his antique Ford truck on it.

On Oct. 4, 1986, attorneys say, Escoto drove wildly across his neighbor's lawn. The older man, in his slippers in his house, got in his own car and gave chase. Then Fernandez stopped to talk with a friend. Escoto approached on foot. He insulted Fernandez. Fernandez pulled a gun. Escoto dared him to shoot. Eventually, Fernandez did. Twice. Escoto ran to find help. A witness says Fernandez finished him off with a blow to the head. Escoto's family told the judge Friday they will never understand. "Jimmy played by the rules," said Dennis Poin, the victim's cousin. "Evidently, Mr. Fernandez could not play by the rules. He played by violence."

But the old friends of Fernandez said that the man who fired the gun was not the man they knew. Fernandez, they said, had been pushed to his limits by Escoto's antics. "I believe that everyone can have a moment in their life when their emotions overrule their better judgement," said a friend, Norma Sanchez. "I think that is what happened to Mr. Fernandez."
Date & Place: in Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida United States
Comments
Leave a comment
The simple act of leaving a comment shows you care.
Share this photo:

People tagged in this photo

Baldomero Fernandez
Featured on the ID channel's "And Justice for All", Baldomero Fernandez was convicted of killing his neighbor. See Murderer for more details. The incident was also featured on "Fear Thy Neighbor". See Home's Where the Hearse Is, James Escoto and Baldomero Fernandez. Baldomero Fernandez's parents were Baldomero Fernandez Suarez (born in Spain in 1897 and died in Cuba) and Isabel Arenas Albanes, (1896-1983) born in Cuba died in Miami FL. Baldomero married Maria Ramon (a citizen of the US) on June 30 1956 in Miami FL. Having lived continuously in the US since May, 1948, he applied for naturalization. On his naturalization application, he stated that he was of medium complexion, was 5 ft 8 in tall, and had brown eyes and black hair. He later married Lourdes and they divorced in July, 1991, in Miami-Dade, Florida. See what seems to be a balanced article about Baldomero, his plea bargain, his background and about the neighbor that he killed, James Escoto, at Baldomero Fernandez Trial. See a photo of James Escoto at Baldomero Fernandez - Jimmy Escoto. Another article about the murder is available here In Miami, Criminals Become the Victims as Citizens Fight Back
Age in photo:
Advertisement

Topic related photos

1980s
1980s
The 1980s were the beginning of modern technology, globalization, new music, & 'New Hollywood'
The 1980s was the birth of the Millennial generation. Reagan, Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher. The end of the Cold War. The fall of the Berlin Wall. The Internet. Terrorist attacks in Beirut, Lockerbie...
Documents
Documents
Documents contain the facts about the people from our past that educate and preserve for future generations.
Historical documents play a crucial role in preserving and transmitting information about the past, providing evidence for the accuracy of historical accounts, and helping us understand the evolution ...
20th Century
20th Century
Photos of the 1900's which brought us from the industrial age to the technological age.
From 1900 through 1999 we witnessed the beginning of flight to a man on the moon and a Mars Rover. We went from using phones tethered by cords and computers that filled rooms, to carrying the equivale...
472k+ photos
Notorious
Notorious
The people and places that live on in our memories - not for good reasons but because of how they shocked and saddened.
Images of serial killers, mass murderers, despots and dictators, prisons, and the victims of these horrors. These people & places live on in infamy in our history. There are the notorious killers: Th...
Florida
Florida
Florida - the Sunshine State - was the 27th state to join the union in 1845.
Known for its balmy climate and natural beauty, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, who led the first European expedition to Florida in 1513, named the state in tribute to Spain’s Easter celebratio...
809 photos

Show more

Advertisement

Followers

Kathy Pinna
I'm a Founder of AncientFaces and support the community answering questions & helping members make connections to the past (thus my official title of Founder & Content and Community Support ). For me, it's been a labor of love for over 20 years. I truly believe with all of my heart that everyone should be remembered for generations to come. I am 2nd generation San Jose and have seen a lot of changes in the area while growing up. We used to be known as the "Valley of Heart's Delight" (because the Valley was covered with orchards and there were many canneries to process the food grown here, which shipped all over the US) - now we have adopted the nickname "Capital of Silicon Valley" and Apple, Ebay, Adobe, Netflix, Facebook, and many more tech companies are within a few miles of my current home in San Jose (including AncientFaces). From a small town of 25,000, we have grown to 1 million plus. And when you add in all of the communities surrounding us (for instance, Saratoga, where I attended high school, living a block from our previous Mayor), we are truly one of the big cities in the US. I am so very proud of my hometown. For more information see Kathy - Founder & Content and Community Director
My family began AncientFaces because we believe that unique photos and stories that show who people are/were should be shared with the world.
Daniel Pinna
I want to build a place where my son can meet his great-grandparents. My grandmother Marian Joyce (Benning) Kroetch always wanted to meet her great-grandchildren, but she died just a handful of years before my son's birth. So while she didn't have the opportunity to meet him, at least he will be able to know her. For more information about what we're building see About AncientFaces. For information on the folks who build and support the community see Daniel - Founder & Creator.
My father's side is full blood Sicilian and my mother's side is a combination of Welsh, Scottish, German and a few other European cultures. One of my more colorful (ahem black sheep) family members came over on the Mayflower. He was among the first to be hanged in the New World for a criminal offense he made while onboard the ship.
Advertisement
Back to Top