A devastated mother embraced her daughter's killer in court this week, a moment of forgiveness amid personal anguish.
Jordyn Howe pleaded guilty in court Tuesday for the 2012 shooting death of his friend, Lourdes “Jina” Guzman-DeJesus, 13. Howe had brought his stepfather’s gun on the school bus, firing it once at the ground.
He pointed the weapon at Guzman-DeJesus -- and this time, when he pulled the trigger, the gun fired, killing her.
The victim’s mother, Ady DeJesus, spoke about her daughter’s death in court.
“It’s such a painful experience,” she said, still visibly shaken. “Two parents should never ... I can’t.”
Howe, now 16, confessed immediately to the crime, pleading guilty to three charges -- including manslaughter with a deadly weapon.
“I’m just sorry for her loss and I apologize for doing what I did,” he said.
Howe faced up to 22 months in prison, and Ady DeJesus initially demanded a harsh punishment.
But after DeJesus met with the teen and a judge, she came up with a different plea deal, and the court agreed. Howe will spend one year in a juvenile detention center and will also spend time touring Florida with DeJesus, talking about the dangers of guns.
If he fails to follow through, he will go back to court.
Judge Ellen Venzer expressed optimism that Howe will make the most of the situation.
“I hope and pray that you do not squander this opportunity that you’ve been given,” she said.
For DeJesus, the ruling has helped to bring her peace.
“I forgive him because I’ve found peace because I feel like my daughter now is in peace,” DeJesus said. “It won’t bring my daughter back, but at least it will keep her name alive.”