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Plea Agreement Reached In Case Of Mother Who Left Child In Car

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South Florida Crime

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A plea agreement was reached in the case of a mother whose child died after he was left in a hot car in a driveway.

The child’s mother, Catalina Bruno, was in jail on charges related to her 11-month old son’s death.

On Wednesday, a plea deal was reached.

Bruno wept in a Miami-Dade courtroom as she pleaded guilty to killing her son Bryan Osceola.

As part of the deal, Bruno would get two years in prison on child neglect and aggravated manslaughter concurrently with credit for time served. Since she is receiving credit for her time behind bars, this means she will be released within the next few days. She will then go to a six to 9-month-long  treatment facility.

“I don’t know if it’s a slap on the wrist.  She has to live with the fact that her child’s gone,” said Defense Attorney Lonnie Richardson.

Bruno’s son, Bryan Osceola, was found dead in his family’s car that had been sitting in the hot Florida sun in May 2013. Would-be rescuers said he had an internal body temperature of 109 degrees.

Prosecutors say the case against Bruno was hurt this month when the dead boy’s father, died in a car crash.  He was to have been a key witness.

Bruno’s defense was to be post-partem depression, mental illness and alcoholism.  She’s been getting treatment in jail, going to AA meetings.

“She received medication. She was seen by psychiatrists. She was seen by doctors. She was counseled,” said Richardson.

She’ll do five years probation, complete a locked down treatment program, attend AA meetings, and may not drive.

Bruno had already shown up on the radar of the Department of Children and Families.

She had earlier been discovered passed out in her car, the baby in the seat beside her.

A Department of Children and Families investigator who allegedly failed to look into the case resigned.

The DCF worker, Shani Smith, was accused of allegedly falsifying documents after investigating Bruno.

Smith claimed that she referred Bruno for a substance abuse evaluation but DCF said the evaluation that might have prevented Bryan’s death never happened.

“I am not a criminal.  I did nothing wrong, ” said Smith on May 28, 2013.

Smith called herself a scapegoat while DCF called her a liar.

“While she denies that she falsified records, all the available evidence to us points to the contrary,” said Former DCF Secretary David Wilkins on May 23, 2013.

Smith and her supervisor lost their jobs.  It was later learned she wasn’t certified as an investigator.

While the prosecution of  Bruno is over, the case is far from closed.  The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office continues to investigate whether there are those within DCF who should face charges in the death of Bryan Osceola.

 

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