Gina Grant seemed to be the perfect candidate for Harvard University: an IQ of 150, honor society member, tennis team co-captain, tutor of underprivileged children.
Now Harvard has taken back its offer of early admission after learning that Grant bludgeoned her mother to death with a lead crystal candlestick five years ago.
"I deal with this tragedy every day on a personal level. It serves no good purpose for anyone else to dredge up the pain of my childhood," Grant, 19, said in a statement. "I'm especially distressed that my college career may now be in jeopardy."
The university would not comment on Grant's case, acknowledging only that an early admission offer had been rescinded. Spokesman Joe Wrinn said Harvard occasionally withdraws such offers because of a sudden drop in a student's academic performance or because a student lied on the application, which asks whether a student has ever been on probation.
Grant was on probation until she was 18 as a condition of pleading no contest to the September 1990 killing of her mother, Dorothy Mayfield, 43, in Lexington, S.C. Friends say Grant, then 14, snapped only after years of emotional stress brought on by her father's death from cancer when she was 11 and her mother's alcoholism.
Grant's attorney, Margaret Burnham, said Grant was not obligated to disclose on the Harvard application something that happened when she was a juvenile. Burnham said in a statement that she hoped Harvard would reconsider. She did not mention any possible legal action.
Three days before Harvard rescinded her early admission, someone hand-delivered South Carolina newspaper reports about Grant's role in her mother's death to Harvard and Boston newspapers.
That action followed a story last Sunday in the Boston Globe Sunday magazine that featured Grant in an article about children who overcame tough obstacles. In the story, Grant said her parents were dead. She did not say she killed her mother by hitting her skull 13 times with the candleholder during a heated argument, as prosecutors alleged.
Newspaper articles about the slaying describe how Grant wept at a hearing when police told how she stopped to wipe up pools of blood in the kitchen after smashing her mother's skull. Police said Grant and her mother, whose blood alcohol content was .30, had been fighting, and Grant's attorney, Jack Swerling, said his client had struck out in self-defense.
But South Carolina prosecutor Donnie Myers argued the killing was premeditated. After the killing, Grant and her football-player boyfriend, Jack Hook, tried to make the death look like suicide by sticking a carving knife into the side of her mother's neck. Hook pleaded no contest to being an accessory to murder after the fact. After the killing, Grant was incarcerated in a juvenile prison and later allowed by a judge to move to Cambridge to live with her aunt and uncle.