After eight years in jail, Yusimil Herrera, sentenced in the death of her own child, is now out of prison. She told Local 10's Baron James Tuesday that she wants to break the cycle of violence that she experienced as a child and that claimed the life of her three-year-old daughter, Angel Hope.
"I was told I was never gonna be nothing," Herrera said. "I was raped and abused, broken bones, every type of abuse you can think of."
The violence for Herrera started when she was two-years-old, when she and her sister were abandoned by their mother. Then until Herrera turned 17, she was raised in the foster system in one home after another.
"In three years we went to like 63 homes," she said.
She said she was repeatedly beaten, raped and drugged for years as outlined in a 1996 lawsuit against DCF that names the sisters as "two forgotten children."
"I was put in a lot of psych wards. I was told I was crazy because I lashed out."
In 2004, Herrera, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was arrested and charged with beating her little girl.
"There was a lot of time I did not take my medication. And I was off my medication I wasn't well. I popped her because my nerves were bad. And I popped her. She fell back and hit the wall."
Three days later Angel Hope died. Herrera was pregnant again at the time.
"I got off the medication because I didn't want the medicine to mess up my baby."
The case went high profile, and she ultimately accepted a plea deal and went to prison for eight years for aggravated manslaughter.
While in jail Herrera, who couldn't read or write, said one day the prison chaplain gave her a bible.
"I never had any schooling, and one day I just prayed to God, 'You gotta help me read. You gotta help me read.'"
And it changed her life. Now she continues to learn to read and write.
"I feel like God has touched my life. The tragedy and the trauma that I went through, it actually made me stronger to be strong enough to help others."
She wants to one day help others never get caught in the cycle that robbed her of her childhood and claim the life of her Angel Hope.
"An angel sent into this world hoping for the best. You always have to be strong and have faith."
Herrera is on 10 years probation. She is not allowed to have any more children during that time. She wants to become an advocate for abused children.
Her ex-husband has custody of the little girl Herrera was pregnant with when she killed Angel Hope.
Herrera and her sister, Tasha Ruiz, were awarded $4.4 million based on their lawsuit against DCF. Before Herrera and Ruiz received any money, the state appealed and the verdict was overturned. The sisters eventually settled, and each ended up with $90,000, however Herrera said she only received $10,000.