Lawyer: Kidnapping suspect has been the 'perfect father'

Lawyer says kidnappping suspect has been the 'perfect father'
Police say Julian Hernandez was taken from his mother 13 years ago by his father. (Source: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
Police say Julian Hernandez was taken from his mother 13 years ago by his father. (Source: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A man accused of taking his 5-year-old son from an Alabama home in 2002 and living in Cleveland ever since, pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and other charges in court on Tuesday.

Bobby Hernandez was indicted on 32 charges, including kidnapping, forgery, records-tampering and interference with custody.

Court-appointed defense attorney Ralph DeFranco entered a plea on Hernandez's behalf.

"We've had the indictment more than 24 hours, waive the reading and enter a plea of not guilty," DeFranco told the judge.

DeFranco asked for what he called a reasonable bond for the first-degree felony and house arrest. He says Hernandez is not a flight risk because he has
a fiancee and job in Cleveland.

The prosecuting attorney sees it differently.

"The defendant in this case, back in 2002, took his 5-year-old son from the state of Alabama without the permission of his mother and has evaded authorities for 13 years," prosecutors responded.

DeFranco said nonetheless, Hernandez has been a good father to his son, Julian.

"He's been a perfect father. His son is a senior in high school. He's athletic. He's an athlete, a straight A-student, planning to go to college. He's been everything a father can be," said DeFranco.

The state recommended, and the judge agreed, to keep the $250,000 bond in place. Hernandez has also been ordered to stay away from his son.

Authorities allege Hernandez took his son from the home of the boy's mother in the Birmingham area 13 years ago.

The two were living under an assumed name, and the boy's true identity was discovered during a recent college application process. The red flag: Julian's Social Security Number kept coming back incorrect. When he approached a school counselor for help, they discovered he was listed as missing by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

DeFranco said the boy and the mother reunited in Alabama over the weekend.

Bobby Hernandez will be back in court on Dec. 10.

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