Yusimil Herrera faces first-degree murder charges but some say the Department of Children and Families deserves some of the blame too.
The Department of Children and Families went to court more than once this spring, trying to get custody of three-year-old Angel Herrera.
Each time the judge said no, even though her mother, 20-year-old Yusimil Herrera had already lost custody of another child. Spokesman Bill Spann could only tell me DCF is working with the cops now.
“The Department is cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation of this senseless tragedy. We will continue to do so, and our hearts go out to the family,” explains Spann.
But attorney Karen Gievers says DCF deserves some of the blame because Yusimil Herrera herself was an abused child.
Gievers sued the state on Herrera’s behalf after she spent most of her young life moving from one horrific situation to another in the state’s foster care system.
"Beginning at the age of three when she was sexually molested at her first foster home that she was in. Other molestations were reported. When she was seven years old she was taken to a rape treatment center. "
One of the main reasons Yusimil never got out of the foster care system is the Department of Children and Families never terminated her parents’ rights so she could be adopted. This even though her mother died of AIDS in the 1990’s and her father is serving life in prison.
But Herrera seemed to be turning her life around. She’d gotten married and Gievers says things were okay the last time they spoke in February.
“She wanted to be a great mom to Angel,” Gievers adds.
But the troubled young woman had stopped taking medication for a mental illness. She is nine months pregnant with another child.
A jury awarded Yusimil Herrera and her sister more than $4 million for the abuse they suffered as children in foster care back in 1999, but an appeals court threw out the verdict.
Earlier this year, Herrera and her sister settled with DCF. She received about $100,000.