Alabama woman who broiled daughter to stay in prison

Alabama
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MONTGOMERY, Ala — Alabama’s parole board refuses to release a woman convicted of putting her 14-month-old daughter into a hot oven in 2002.

The board rejects an early release for 40-year-old Melissa Wright of Millbrook during a hearing Tuesday.

Wright pleaded guilty to attempted murder in 2003 after placing daughter Ashley Smith in a broiling oven at their home in Elmore County.

“At the time it happened, the evidence showed that Melissa had removed the racks out of the oven, turned it to broil, waited for it to heat up and put Ashley head first into that oven,” says D.A. Randall Houston.

The girl survived and is now 15, having endured more than two dozen operations for burns she received in the oven. Smith asked the board to keep her mother in prison.

“I can’t imagine anyone in as much pain as I’ve gone through mentally and physically,” Ashley says in a letter she wrote to the court. “I do not hate Melissa. But I do not love her. I forgave Melissa. But I still do not want her around any other children to give her another chance to hurt anymore innocent children.”

But Smith’s older sister, Courtney Brunson, asked the board to free Wright. She calls her mother a changed woman who was once mentally ill.

“She is on the right medication to help her with her mental illness…. I feel like she has changed. When I go visit her… I can tell a difference in her,” says Brunson.

Houston says he wants the woman to serve every day of her 25-year sentence.

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