Autopsy reveals Michael Hernandez died of heart irregularity



Michael Hernandez, who was convicted of murdering his classmate Jaime Gough at Southwood Middle School in 2004, walks into the courtroom of Miami-Dade Criminal Court for a new conviction in 2016. Wednesday, May 16 2018, an appeals court upheld his life sentence.

Michael Hernandez, who was convicted of murdering his classmate Jaime Gough at Southwood Middle School in 2004, walks into the courtroom of Miami-Dade Criminal Court for a new conviction in 2016. Wednesday, May 16 2018, an appeals court upheld his life sentence.

cmguerrero@elnuevoherald.com

Michael Hernandez, the notorious killer who murdered his best friend in a toilet stall at Southwood Middle High in 2004, has died of a heart irregularity, according to an autopsy released Monday.

According to the report released by the Columbia County Medical Examiner’s Office, Hernandez died of cardiac dysrhythmia, aggravated by morbid obesity. The mode of death: natural causes.

The autopsy report answers the mystery of what killed Hernandez, who was only 31 when he suddenly collapsed inside Columbia Correctional Facility in Lake City in May. The autopsy found no evidence of external trauma and revealed that he had illegal drugs in his system, which had been a source of speculation about his death.

It was in February 2004 when Hernandez lured his friend, Jaime Gough, also 14, to a washroom at Southwood Middle in Palmetto Bay, a suburban town south of Miami. He stabbed Jaime more than 40 times in an affair that shocked South Florida and the nation. In 2008, jurors convicted Hernandez, dismissing his claim he was insane at the time of the murder.

Hernandez was initially sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But it got a new sentencing hearing after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed automatic life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles convicted or for murder. He was again sentenced to life in prison.

David Ovalle covers crime and the courts in Miami. Originally from San Diego, he graduated from the University of Southern California and joined the Herald in 2002 as a sports reporter.


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