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Attorney Sergio Cabanas, Next Door Neighbor Of Pembroke Pines Man Charged With 1st Degree Murder Of 2-Year-Old Daughter, Speaks On Domestic Violence Awareness


The South Florida lawyer, founder of Divorce & Mediation Law Firm | Cabanas Law Firm, met with reporters Thursday evening to discuss his security camera footage used by police in conjunction with the arrest of Jeronimo Duran for the murder of his 2-year-old daughter and to stress what must be done to protect children in domestic violence scenarios.

Pembroke Pines, Florida, June 6, 2024 — The Pembroke Pines community was horrified and deeply grieved by the tragic killing of 2-year-old Melody Alana Rose Duran by her father in their home on Tuesday morning. Sergio Cabanas, an attorney very familiar with domestic violence cases, lives next door to the father (and the current suspect) and his grandmother; he witnessed the prior movements of the suspect and the aftermath.

The family lawyer held a press conference with news reporters Thursday to tell what he saw, what his security footage captured (the movements of the suspect the morning of the murder), what he knew about the case, and most importantly what the community, court system, and domestic violence victims need to do to honor Melody and her family by ensuring nothing like this ever happens to an innocent child again.

“We have to protect our children….what happened was horrible, and I work as a lawyer day in and day out handling domestic violence cases. It’s one thing to work on it from a legal perspective, in theory, but to actually go out into your front yard and see a young girl being wheeled into an ambulance? It’s heartbreaking. It hit home the reality of what we do day to day. That’s why it’s on us to do what we can to protect our children. That means me, that means you as reporters and the public. I want to raise awareness,” explained Atty. Cabanas.

Court filings show that the child’s mother, Mona Rosita Clarke, had previously filed a petition alleging that Duran’s timesharing with the child should have been restricted, based on numerous factors. The documents cite paranoia, anger issues, erratic and violent behavior, and the fact that Duran had been Baker Acted a minimum of 5 times. The court filings stated that there was an instance where the “father chased the mother into a bedroom with the child in her arms and punched a fan”, and one where “the father abused the family dog, punching it in the face”.

Clarke also petitioned the court for a psychological evaluation after sharing Duran had been “hearing voices to end his life, some while the child was with him alone”. She asked for full custody and a guardian ad litem to supervise visits, but the court issued a parenting plan this March where the father was granted unsupervised visits (the reason why and the series of events leading up to that decision is unclear).

Reporters asked Atty. Cabanas if the court system failed Melody and Mona.

“That’s a good question…it’s hard to tell by just reviewing a court filing. I don’t know because there is no way to know for sure…But he ended up with a child in the house, and that’s when the tragic event happened…And that’s why I want to emphasize, do not give up on your children.”

Atty. Cabanas shared that there are many remedies available for people who are caught in custody battles and domestic violence situations. Calling the police, filing a restraining order, and above all, working with an attorney. For those who cannot afford an attorney, Atty. Cabanas recommends organizations like Legal Aid that provide free legal representation. He remarked that even people in compromised immigration statuses will not be penalized for reporting to protect a child and that there are legal options for them as well. “[People in these situations who can’t afford lawyers or who are undocumented] shouldn’t feel helpless,” Atty. Cabanas declared.

The divorce lawyer said the key to protecting children where the courts are concerned is getting the evidence. Medical records, video recordings, written documents, the list goes on and on and the court is usually very open to consider that evidence.

“Unfortunately, people have made so many false accusations, judges sometimes turn a deaf ear to it. That’s why it’s so important to have an attorney and so important to get the evidence wherever you can.”

Sergio Cabanas is the managing attorney and founder of a prominent South Florida family law firm that frequently helps people who find themselves in toxic, and sometimes dangerous, family situations. His heart goes out to the child’s mother and her entire family during this tragic time. 

If you are in immediate danger from domestic violence or abuse, contact the police immediately. Help is available. See the list of resources below.

Domestic Violence Resources

Cabanas Law Firm Video Resources 



Media Contact:

Stephanie Cabanas

(954) 447-2580

Divorce & Mediation Law Firm | Cabanas Law Firm

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