A Homeless Homicide

A stoned driver killed Christina Van Huffel in his Mercedes. The mental-health system let her die.

But, he and others say, Christina's case isn't unique.

"Everything falls through the cracks," says Broward Circuit Court Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren, who oversees a special court that offers treatment instead of punishment to the mentally ill. "All there is is cracks -- cracks and gulleys. It's a public health tragedy."

Courtney, who doesn't blame Lorusso for Christina's demise, says he regularly hears stories about homeless people whose lives are in jeopardy. Just the other day he received a phone call from an affluent woman in Connecticut who thought her son was living in South Florida. "I know him," Courtney says. "He's drinking himself to death." Unfortunately, he says, the homeless and others are allowed to kill themselves slowly and quietly. But if they bother the wrong people and are committed under the state's Baker Act, the remedy is only temporary. "We'll save you for 72 hours," Courtney says. "Then you're on your own."

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