Woman Convicted Of Burning Baby In Oven Denied Parole

| by David Bonner
Ashley Smith as a baby after being burnedAshley Smith as a baby after being burned

Melissa Wright, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2002 for almost killing her infant daughter by putting her in a hot oven, has been denied parole.

The daughter, Ashley Smith, who suffered third-degree burns on 30 percent of her body as a result of the incident, appeared before the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles on July 26, asking that her mother be denied early release, the Daily Mail reports.

"Evidence showed that Melissa removed the racks out of the oven, turned it to broil and waited for it to heat up and then put Ashley head first into that oven," Elmore County district attorney Randall Houston said.

After the attempted murder, Ashley went to live with her aunt and her father’s sister.

Now 14 years old, Ashley told the Board she did not trust her mother around children, specifically her niece and nephew.

“I honestly do not trust her and I'm afraid for their safety,” she told the Board.

Houston explained that “If Melissa had gotten out today, she could have legally enforced her parental rights."

"I think that would have been a horrible thing for Ashley," he continued. "The most important thing for us, was to allow Ashley to grow up, to become an adult and then, if she decided she wanted to have a relationship with her mother, then it would be her choice."

Ashley’s older sister, Courtney Brunson, also testified at the hearing, but in her mother’s favor. She asked the Board to grant her mother parole, claiming she changed her ways:

I was only 8-years-old when it happened, she was different. I seen what happened. I know how she was. She was not herself. When she wasn't sick, she was a good mom, a real good mom, but she was getting worse. Several times, I found her out in the yard talking about the world coming to an end. That was a big thing with her, the world coming to an end.

Her symptoms Brunson referred to were allegedly the result of postpartum depression, for which she was taking an antidepressant drug, reports the website SSRI Stories

As for Ashley, she has come a long way in recovering from her near-death experience. 

'She is an extremely strong child," Houston observed, according to the Daily Mail. "How many adults can undergo the number of surgeries she has gone through in her life? That's just incredible."

Sources: Daily Mail, SSRI Stories / Photo Credit: Elmore County District Attorney's Office via Daily Mail

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