'My father was there, that's all I ever needed,' kidnapped son speaks at father's sentencing

Published: Apr. 13, 2016 at 11:16 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2016 at 8:21 PM EDT
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Bobby Hernandez pleads guilty to several kidnapping-related charges in court Monday, March 14....
Bobby Hernandez pleads guilty to several kidnapping-related charges in court Monday, March 14. (Source: Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's office)
Famed Attorney Gloria Allred in court at Bobby Hernandez sentencing. (Source: WOIO)
Famed Attorney Gloria Allred in court at Bobby Hernandez sentencing. (Source: WOIO)
Bobby Hernandez's fiancee in court. (Source: WOIO)
Bobby Hernandez's fiancee in court. (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Cleveland man convicted of kidnapping his son in 2002 was sentenced to four years in prison Wednesday.

Bobby Hernandez took his son from his mother's home in Alabama when he was five-years-old and moved him to Cleveland.

"I don't know why you did it. This was a horrible thing to do to a mother or another parent," said  Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams.

Hernandez, 53, plead guilty last month to several counts of kidnapping, tampering with records, interference with custody and forgery. All counts, except the forgery, are felonies.

Judge Collier-Williams sentenced him to 40-and-a-half years total, but ordered the sentences to be served concurrently, meaning he will be behind bars for the next 48 months.

Julian, now 19, found out he had a fake identity when he began applying to colleges in 2015. Cleveland police arrested Hernandez on November 2, 2015, after the FBI received a tip that he and his missing son were living in Cleveland.

Both Julian and his mother, who were in court for Wednesday's sentencing, asked not to be shown on television. Judge Collier-Williams granted their request and extended it to immediate family members as well.

All Julian knew was that his mother and father had broken up. He said he was told his mother loved someone else.

"Yes, growing up without my mother was painful at times. Taking my father away from me now just increases the pain from that," said Julian in court. "I can't imagine going on in my life without his support."

Hernandez's fiancee' said he is not a criminal and that he is remorseful.

According to prosecutors, other family members would like Hernandez to receive jail time because of the pain he inflicted.

"Our lives were changed forever August 28, 2002," said Julian's mother in a statement read by Attorney Gloria Allred. "Julian's abduction also affected my family and friends."

Mom also told the court she left Julian's bedroom exactly as it was when he left, "I can never get back the 13 years that were stolen from me."

Julian's grandmother said she bought her grandson an ornament every Christmas that he was missing.

"For 13 years we did not know if Julian was alive or dead," said Julian's grandmother in a written statement. "Bobby Hernandez kidnapped him to get back at his mother. This is not a sign of a good father."

Julian did not know he was kidnapped until his Social Security number didn't match what it should have been. He discovered he had been listed on a missing children's website for many years.

While Julian asked his dad not go to jail, mom,  who has since remarried expressed no opinion. Julian's grandmother asked that Bobby be sentenced to, at least, the 13 years he took from them.

"Mr. Hernandez has taken full responsibility. He stepped over a line and he cannot step back," Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams. "Although I do believe he wishes he could do things differently."

Upon handing down the sentence, Judge Collier-Williams took into consideration not only Julian's statement, but the fact that he is a good boy, never been in any trouble and plans to attend college.

"Justice has been achieved today," Prosecutor McGinty said after the hearing. "We had a parent who had the audacity to kidnap his son, and by breaking the law, to exact vengeance on the boy's mother." Mr. Hernandez, Prosecutor McGinty said, "deserves every day of" the sentence that was imposed.

Hernandez will be on probation for five years once released from prison. He could have received up to 54 years behind bars.

He faces additional charges in Alabama.

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