What to Know
The Bronx DA agreed Tuesday to dismiss the charges against teen Pedro Hernandez under one peculiar condition
DA agreed to dismiss a second felony charge against Pedro Hernandez, 18, and sister, Ivanyeline, if they show proof of college attendance
Prosecutors said they believe both siblings “will be successful”
The Bronx teen who made national headlines for deciding to stay on Rikers Island rather than pleading guilty to a crime he was adamant he didn’t commit is now headed to college — with a clean slate.
The Bronx District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday it agreed to dismiss a second felony charge against 18-year-old Pedro Hernandez and his sister, Ivanyeline, with one condition — the two most show proof of one semester at college.
In an unusual legal condition, if Hernandez finishes one college semester and provides proof he will be free and clear of the criminal charges he’s been battling since 2015 in the Bronx amid allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct.
Hernandez has been battling for three years to clear his name — first against a shooting charge which was dismissed by the Bronx District Attorney in September of 2017.
The I-Team first interviewed Hernandez behind bars on Rikers earlier that year when he decided to stay in jail rather than accept a plea deal of probation.
“I’m willing to stay and fight this because I’m innocent,” Hernandez said in the interview.
The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights foundation ultimately bailed him out. By then, Hernandez had become an academic standout and was offered a college scholarship. The problem was that Hernandez and his sister faced another charge —supposedly for stealing a cellphone during a street fight.
On Tuesday, the day the trial was supposed to start, prosecutors suddenly agreed to dismiss both cases if the two showed proof of college attendance.
Prosecutors said they believe both siblings “will be successful.”
Ivanyele is already at John Jay College in Manhattan pursuing a degree in criminal justice
“Now, I’ll be able to show them that I’ve been in school, I have a transcript, get it over with and continue on with my journey,” Ivanyele said, adding she hopes to become a probation officer and counselor for the youth.
Meanwhile, Hernandez has been accepted to a college outside of Boston for the fall 2018 semester, but had to postpone attending because of the ongoing robbery case. He now hopes to start in January 2019.
“Never give up,” he said. “You should stand your ground if you’re innocent. Fight for it.”
The siblings’ mother, Jessica Perez, says her children are strong-minded and believe in themselves.
In a statement, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said: “Today we offered to dismiss the two cases against Pedro Hernandez. He has told the court he has been accepted by a college. Under the unique circumstances, the cases have been adjourned until May 2019.”
Clark confirmed that if Hernandez enrolls in college in January, completes the semester and provides proof, her office will move to dismiss both cases against him.
“We believe in dispositions outside the criminal justice system whenever possible and when they provide consideration of the rights of the victim, fairness to the defendant and do not compromise public safety,” Clark further added. “We believe this disposition will give Mr. Hernandez the opportunity to put his life on the right path to succeed. Now it is up to him.”
Last year, when Hernandez was cleared of the shooting charge, the district attorney announced she was asking the federal authorities to get involved in a broadening investigation into law enforcement’s actions. It’s unclear where that investigation currently stands.