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Gina Grant was only 14-years-old when she bludgeoned her alcoholic and abusive mom to death with a lead crystal candlestick in Lexington, South Carolina on September 13, 1990. After the murder, she cleaned up the area and then positioned her mother’s hands to make it look like she had stuck the knife in herself, an absurd scenario. At the time of her death, Dorothy Mayfield’s blood alcohol level was so high that she may have been passed out at the time of the murder. The story Gina told police changed quite a bit before she ultimately admitted to attacking her mother and trying to cover it up. Four years later, Gina Grant was making headlines again — for something completely different.

In 1995, The Boston Globe published a profile on the bright young girl highlighting the difficulties she’d overcome as an orphan. The resilient teen talked about losing her father at 11 to cancer but said the circumstances of her mother’s death were just too painful to speak of. Gina had excelled at high school, participating in tennis and tutoring disadvantaged children. Her acceptance was rescinded, however, after the university received an anonymous package containing newspaper clippings about her mother’s murder.

By the time she was admitted to Harvard, Gina had already served her time: 8 months of a 12-month sentence in a juvenile corrections facility. After her sentence was complete, she got permission to move to Cambridge with her paternal aunt and uncle to rebuild her life. Although in some states the young teen would have been tried as an adult on a murder charge, Gina was considered a minor for her sentencing. Her boyfriend at the time also served time for being an accessory to murder after the fact.

Gina’s lawyers had argued that the teen had killed Dorothy Mayfield because she drank too much and was physically abusive to Gina, a fact her older sister corroborated. Because “guilty” juveniles are not considered convicted, but instead are labeled adjudicated delinquents, she technically had no criminal convictions on her record.

Harvard caught a lot of heat for their decision to deny acceptance to a young person who had already been punished for her crime, and for accepting her at all without knowing her background. Along with Harvard, Columbia University and Barnard College also rescinded Gina’s admission. She ended up entering Tufts University’s 1999 class. The rest of Gina’s life has faded from the public eye. She’s disappeared in anonymity. Maybe she’s changed her name.

The rescindences sparked a fierce media debate about who really deserves a college education. Do people who have served their time for murder deserve the same educational rights as anyone else? This question gets a little more tricky when considering the law as it relates to minors, and to the question of how much an adult should continue to pay for crimes committed while still a child. Something like shoplifting or other petty crimes are things a young person can move past, can leave behind in some capacity. Killing someone, especially your own mother, is an act that lingers, no matter how much you change. The time taken can’t be given back, the pain can’t be rescinded. It colors everything, even if you’ve paid your penance to the state, and constructed a new life built on a different identity.

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  • shay

    Thirteen blows to the mothers head front and back and then convinces her boyfriend to stab her mother in the neck? Mothers blood dripping all over her. Then lies and says her boyfriend did it. Doesn’t need school to make her smart? She devious and calculated.

    • Grace

      Yet she has lived a normal life helping the misfortunate. She became a lawyer and married her college sweetheart that was with her when this story came out. She lives a very normal life, and yet she changed her name. I think you cant judge a child when they do something like this. I feel that she probably had cut off her emotions because of the death of her father, and the anger and resentment she felt with her mother who was always drunk. I understand this emotion although I am not sure why she murdered. She was probably a very broken child, but she did grow up to be a good person that I know for a fact.

      • young.racheal

        Grace, I take it that you know her personally. Have you ever asked her exactly why she did it? Has she ever told you that she’s sorry for murdering her mother? And would you feel safe with her babysitting your children, or the child of a family member? How would you feel if you found out that she was your child’s college rommate? Lots of people have lost a parent, have dealt with abuse inflicted on them for no reason, yet they didn’t kill their parents. There were many, many other things that she could have done, other than murdering her mother.

        • Grace

          She is a middle aged woman now with a family! I would have absolutely no problem leaving my children with her! I believe in redemption! Besides she has been free for decades and has not harmed a fly, but has done the opposite. She could have been a very successful wealthy lawyer but she instead dedicates her time and education to working with the less fortunate. If she was still rotting in prison would that satisfy you? She was just a child when all this happened.

          • Trevor Sedis

            Manson never killed anyone, yet remains in prison.

            VagPriv uber alles!