Melbourne, FL (Florida Today) -- Ja'veon Mitchell would have been 3 years old today, if he hadn't been
neglected and stuffed in a cooler. He died of unknown causes in 2011.
would have been talking, running, playing," said Assistant State
Attorney Julia Lynch. "They're so engaging at three years of age,
there's so much they can do."
Lynch prosecuted the woman
who was supposed to care for Ja'veon. In August, Carolyn Renee Miller
pleaded no contest to aggravated manslaughter of a child and improper
disposal of a human body. Miller, now 42, was sentenced Friday to 13.25
years in prison and six years of drug offender probation, Lynch said.
official cause of death is unknown, but Lynch said Brevard County
Medical Examiner Sajid Qaiser testified in court "he was leaning more
towards a homicide on the case or a neglect on the case as a cause of
the child's death."
Miller told detectives she woke to
find Ja'Veon dead, then panicked and packed the body in a cooler she hid
behind her boyfriend's home on Deleon Avenue in Titusville.
central issue of Friday's hearing was whether Miller's mental state
should mitigate her sentence. Lynch said the defense argued Miller was
suffering from PTSD and trauma from a tough upbringing and bad
relationships. She said a therapist testified in court that Miller was
dazed and confused at the time.
Lynch said the judge noted that Miller was being paid in crack cocaine to take care of the child.
"A judge noted that those type of symptoms can be associated with a person who is still high on cocaine," Lynch said.
the judge gave Miller a relatively low sentence compared to what he
could have prescribed under the law, according to Lynch.
of Ja'veon's relatives came to court to see the sentence, Lynch said.
The only audience members were crime scene investigators and a
Titusville detective. The child's mother won't face prosecution.
obviously a very cute little child," Lynch said of Ja'veon. "He looked
like a normal, healthy little baby. Like all kids that age - 7 months -
they're completely dependent. They just want somebody to hold them, take
care of them."