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Second chance for Bianella Susanna, mother of youngest person ever charged with First Degree murder in Jacksonville

11:36 PM, Oct 22, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, FL -- Bianella Susanna is living a quiet life now.

The mother of the youngest person ever charged with First Degree murder in Jacksonville is trying to move forward.

Her son Cristian was just 12-year-old when he killed his two year old half brother by slamming him in to a bookcase.

Cristian took a plea bargain committing him to a juvenile detention center until his 19th birthday.

Bianella was sentenced to 13 years, but a judge ruled that after serving two years and four months in prison, Bianna should be freed.

Now community leaders are coming together to help her move forward and heal. 

"I tell everyone she's looking over my shoulder," said Dr. Lawanda Ravoira.

Looking away from the camera and smiling, it's a picture of a second chance.

"It's a reminder of how we can have a very different ending when we come together as a community," she said.

It was a different story for Bianella just this summer.

Convicted of aggravated manslaughter of a child for the death of her 2 year old son, David, she should have served 13 years in prison.

But a team of lawyers and doctors worked together on their own time to get her out of jail and in to counseling.

"Many media outlets vilified this young mother instead of getting to the real story," she said.

 Dr. Lawanda Ravoira is Bianella's supervisor at the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center.

She says the real tragedy is how the state failed Bianella and her family time and time again.

Pregnant at just 11-years-old, and later in foster care with Cristian, she says every time there was a chance for someone to help her, they turned away.

"To really leave this young girl without any of the safety nets that we would provide for our own child," she said.

Bianella now has that support at the policy center.

In a lengthy ruling, Judge James Daniel agreed to release her with mandated counseling, a place to live and a job.

Ravoira says she isn't taking that second chance lightly.

"I think she is going to be the model for other young girls who have experienced tragedies and traumas that most of us can't even imagine. Bianella will give voice to them," she said.

She's still finding her own voice.

In letters from Cristian to his mom released by the state attorney's office, it's clear their tragedy serves as their bond.

The last is a picture, wrists in handcuffs, the message: freedom.

"This is Bianella right after she was released," she said.

Ravoira will lead a discussion about the lessons learned from Bianella's story at the National Girls Justice Day Wednesday from 1-4 p.m. For tickets call 850-425-2600.

First Coast News

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