Fatal Errors

A 13-year old girl suffocated after snorting heroin with a friend. Then came the hysteria, lies, and missteps.

Memories of Darlene Robinson's daughter are everywhere in her home: Photos of Sherry as a toddler with older brother Michael, of Sherry and her mom, of a smiling Sherry posing between Tigger and Winnie-the-Pooh in Orlando a little more than a month before her death. Her last report card shows A's and B's and glowing comments from her teachers. "She's a delight!" wrote one.

Robinson remembers her last conversation with Sherry. "I called her [at Christina's] Sunday about seven. I always picked her up sometime around 8 or 9 on Sundays. She asked to stay longer. I got irritated because she had asked for more time there already, and she had had enough." Robinson pauses, then resumes. She told Sherry she wanted her to spend more time in North Lauderdale and less at Silver Oaks. "But I felt like she'd never gotten into trouble. She'd done very good at school; I'd always trusted her. I felt she deserved to do the fun things she wanted to do. I left it as a yes, but I was mad."

Robinson hung up but a few minutes later redialed Christina's home.

"I called her back because I didn't want to leave it like that. I called her back, and she was crying. She said she'd start spending more time at home. She told me she loved me. And that's the last time I talked to her." Only later, thinking back on those final words, did Robinson begin to wonder why her daughter was so upset. Perhaps, the mother has come to believe, it was because Sherry sensed events were getting out of control.

"I thought about it, the crying. I just don't know. I just don't know."

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