Melbourne, FL (Florida Today) -- Ja'veon Mitchell would have been 3 years old today, if he hadn't beenneglected and stuffed in a cooler. He died of unknown causes in 2011.
"Hewould have been talking, running, playing," said Assistant StateAttorney Julia Lynch. "They're so engaging at three years of age,there's so much they can do."
Lynch prosecuted the womanwho was supposed to care for Ja'veon. In August, Carolyn Renee Millerpleaded no contest to aggravated manslaughter of a child and improperdisposal of a human body. Miller, now 42, was sentenced Friday to 13.25years in prison and six years of drug offender probation, Lynch said.
Ja'veon'sofficial cause of death is unknown, but Lynch said Brevard CountyMedical Examiner Sajid Qaiser testified in court "he was leaning moretowards a homicide on the case or a neglect on the case as a cause ofthe child's death."
Miller told detectives she woke tofind Ja'Veon dead, then panicked and packed the body in a cooler she hidbehind her boyfriend's home on Deleon Avenue in Titusville.
Thecentral issue of Friday's hearing was whether Miller's mental stateshould mitigate her sentence. Lynch said the defense argued Miller wassuffering from PTSD and trauma from a tough upbringing and badrelationships. She said a therapist testified in court that Miller wasdazed 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.
Ultimately,the judge gave Miller a relatively low sentence compared to what hecould have prescribed under the law, according to Lynch.
Noneof Ja'veon's relatives came to court to see the sentence, Lynch said.The only audience members were crime scene investigators and aTitusville detective. The child's mother won't face prosecution.
"He'sobviously a very cute little child," Lynch said of Ja'veon. "He lookedlike a normal, healthy little baby. Like all kids that age - 7 months -they're completely dependent. They just want somebody to hold them, takecare of them."