In 2002, Robert Smith found his 14-month-old daughter, Ashley, inside of an oven in their Prattville, Alabama, home. The girl's mother, Melissa Wright, had removed all of the oven racks, set it to broil at 600 degrees, and put Ashley inside. Ashley received third-degree burns and underwent 28 surgeries over the course of 10 years.
Ashley is now 15 and is getting ready for high school. She recently called for her mother to be denied parole.
Wright was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2003 after pleading guilty to attempted murder. She initially told authorities that Ashley had fallen out of her arms and into the oven and that the door closed behind her. This was proven untrue, however, and she later revealed that "voices told her to put the baby in the oven."
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In July of this year, she was considered for early release, which she was ultimately denied.
Ashley and her attorney requested that the board delay her mother's parole for the maximum extent of five years. She will be eligible for parole again in 2021.
Ashley's sister, Courtney Brenson, who was 8 at the time of the incident, supported an early release for her mother.
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"I went to visit her multiple times. She went through classes for mental health. She has been through child-abuse classes. She has actually got the help she needs," Brenson said. "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 actually see the difference in her."
Ashley disagreed, citing her young niece and nephew as reasons.
"I think Melissa should stay in prison a few more years before she gets out,” she said in court. "They are about the same ages as me and Courtney when this happened. I honestly do not trust her and I’m afraid for their safety. I can’t imagine anybody being in as much pain as I was in."
Ashley added in court, "I do not hate Melissa, but I do not love her. I forgave Melissa."
Ashley was raised by her aunt and uncle on her father's side and considers them as her parents.
The teen says her mother has never apologized to her for what she did.
Childhood trauma is not holding Ashley back, however. She is looking ahead to the future and says she wants to be a surgeon at a children's hospital.