Christian Birdsall-Hernandez, a 16-year-old junior at Redwood Alternative High School, and previously a student at CVHS, was arrested and charged with the recent murder of Barbara Latiolais on Oct. 17 in conjunction with Cody Nicosia, another recent CVHS student.
Birdsall-Hernandez is often described as funny, compassionate, and ready with a smile. He is outgoing and “a little out there” but always happy, friends say.He played for the CVHS football team.
Many recall good memories of being with Birdsall-Hernandez: playing ninja in the park, enjoying birthday parties, and having deep, sincere talks are only a few of the good memories his Birdsall and Nicosia, whom he was living with at the time, were “like brothers from another “He’s really funny and he’s a total sweetheart,” said junior Sam Tracq, who has known Birdsall-Hernandez since her freshman year. “He’s just a goofball, honestly.”
“If one of us had a problem, we [Christian, Cody, and I] would all meet up somewhere and talk about it,” said junior Jorden Saunders, a close friend of both Birdsall-Hernandez and Nicosia since his freshman year. “He’s always there to comfort somebody.”
“He’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met,” said freshman Kimberly Abraham, who had met Birdsall-Hernandez a year ago at a church youth group event. “No matter what, he’d always be there for you.”
Many couldn’t believe that Birdsall-Hernandez was capable of committing this crime. “I was in total disbelief,” said Abraham. Others echoed this sense of shock and denial when they were told of the incident.
“I felt off,” said Saunders after discovering the teen’s alleged role in the crime.
However, there are possible signs that could show this wasn’t so uncharacteristic of him. Tracq said of Birdsall-Hernandez, “I want to say he’s one of those people who can hide things really easily.”
A long time friend of the two suspects said Birdsall-Hernandez “doesn’t think stuff out” and that he can get physical very quickly. He said he had anger problems and is a spur-of-the-moment type of guy. Yet despite this, he says, “I honestly don’t think he did it on purpose.”
Sgt. J.D. Nelson of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department said that the two suspects showed “very little, if any, remorse” and calls it “the stories that nightmares are made of.”
Birdsall-Hernandez had no significant previous criminal record, Nelson said. He will be tried as an adult even though he is under the age of 18, a decision made by the district attorney. If found guilty, he will not be eligible for the death penalty, but he may be sentenced to life in prison.