Two Alabama sisters are fighting over their mom, Melissa Wright, who has been in prison for over 14 years after she tried to broil the younger sister in an oven, Inside Edition is reporting.
In 2002, Ashley Smith was just 14 months old when her 26-year-old mother removed the racks from the oven, adjusted the dial to broil, waited for it to heat up, and put her baby into the oven, head first.
The screams of the little girl had alerted her father, who rescued her and rushed her to the hospital. Wright had initially told authorities that her daughter had dropped from her arms while she was cooking and rolled into the oven before the oven door closed magically behind her.
She later said voices had told her to put her youngest daughter in the oven. A court document had revealed that the oven had been set to 600 degrees.
Melissa Wright was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to the crime of attempted murder. Ashley, who is now 15, suffered 30 percent third-degree burns all over her body and even after 38 corrective surgeries still carries noticeable scars on her arms and foreheads.
“I’ve had 38 surgeries. It was painful but I got through it. I do not hate her. I don’t love her. I don’t want to see her. I think she’s crazy. I cannot imagine any mother wanting to burn their child.”
However, Ashley’s sister Courtney, who was 8 years old at the time of the tragedy, wants her mother released from prison. Courtney, who is now 22, relived the incident saying she was right there when it all happened.
— USA News (@1USNews) July 27, 2016
“While I’m standing by the refrigerator, she picked up Ashley and told her that she loved her…next thing you know, there goes Ashley in the oven and the oven door shuts.”
The 22-year-old woman said that at that time their mother was battling with mental illness and struggling with the after-effects of an anti-depressant medication she was using. She argued that her mother was not in her right mind when the incident had occurred, but after 14 years in prison had received adequate treatment and deserved to be freed.
“She is not a monster…she is a changed woman and people need to realize that.”
In July, during Wright’s parole hearing, Courtney had told the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles that she had visited her mother occasionally in prison and that she was doing well. Courtney, a mother of two, revealed that her mother had gone through classes for mental health and child abuse, and was on the right medication.
Danny Jones, Wright’s brother, had told the board that his sister could stay with him and that he would ensure that she used her medication and kept her doctor’s appointments.
Inspiration rises from horrific crime: (2003) When Ashley was 14 months old, Melissa Wright placed her in an oven… https://t.co/NNdmqUSNJJ
— Shelle (@publicrelations) March 21, 2016
On the other hand, Ashley, who addressed her biological mother by her first name, said she was uncomfortable with her mother being released from prison and having access to her niece and nephew. She said she was afraid for their safety and wanted “Melissa to stay in prison a few more years before she gets out.”
Wright was denied parole until 2021; she had served 13 years and nine months of her sentence.
Courtney covered her face with her hands when she heard the parole’s decision.
The two sisters no longer speak to each other.
District Attorney Randall Houston said Wright was sentenced to 25 years to allow her child to grow up. According to him, if she had been released by the parole board, there was the likelihood she would have enforced her parental rights, and that “would have been a horrible thing for Ashley.” Houston said it was crucial that Ashley grow up and become an adult, and then decide by herself if she wanted a relationship with her mother. Ashley now lives with her aunt from her father’s side.
Friends and neighbors had told reporters that at the time of the incident, Wright was mentally unstable. One neighbor told investigators that Wright used to occasionally have fits of anger and manic episodes which eventually spiraled out of control when she lost her job as a waitress.
Another neighbor said, shortly before the oven incident, that she had seen Courtney running out of the house, yelling that her mother was trying to kill her. She said the girl had also told her of a time her mother had tried to jump out of a moving car.
Do you think Melissa Wright should be released from prison?
[Featured Image by Artlite/iStock]