Florida man convicted of killing middle school classmate dies in prison at 31

LAKE CITY, Fla. — Michael Hernandez, convicted at the age of 14 for brutally butchering a classmate in a Southwood Middle School bathroom stall, died in a Florida prison Thursday, multiple media outlets reported.

Hernandez, 31, had been serving a life sentence since 2008 at Columbia Correctional Institution in Lake City, Florida, for the 2004 killing of Jaime Gough, WFOR reported.

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A cause of death for Hernandez had not been confirmed Sunday night, and an autopsy is pending.

According to WFOR, prison video shows Hernandez collapsing to the ground, but there were no signs he had been attacked by other inmates.

Hernandez, who reportedly fantasized about being a serial killer, lured Gough, also 14, into the school bathroom and stabbed him more than 40 times, the TV station reported.

Hernandez was found guilty of first-degree murder after the jury rejected Hernandez’ claim that he was legally insane at the time of the killing, the Miami Herald reported.

“Jaime Gough’s brutal murder ended a promising young life and forever scarred his family. For them, this news still must tear at their hearts. I have always felt that Michael Hernandez’ family were also Michael’s victims. Upon his conviction, Michael Hernandez’ family was also scarred by Michael’s actions. My sympathies to both families,” the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office said in a prepared statement regarding Hernandez’ death.

Jorge Gough, Jaime Gough’s father, told the Herald on Saturday that he was “shocked” to learn of Hernandez’ death from prosecutors.

“I was not expecting this at all,” Jorge Gough said. “We talk about our son a lot, not in a sad way. We miss him, and the big question is: What would he be today?”

Both the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Department of Corrections’ Office of the Inspector General are investigating Hernandez’ death, the newspaper reported.

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