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July 29, 20166:52pm
By Hannah Parry For Dailymail.com
The last memory that Ashley Smith has of her mother is when she was just 14 months old.
It wasn’t being cradled while being sung nursery rhymes or rocked to sleep.
In fact, it couldn’t be more disturbingly opposite.
Melissa Wright placed her baby girl in a scorching hot oven — leaving poor defenceless Ashley’s precious soft skin with the most unimaginable third degree burns over 30 per cent of her body.
Wright, who was 26 at the time, was jailed for 25 years for attempted murder for the horrendous incident in 2002.
Wright’s parole came up for review on Tuesday, and her now 14-year-old daughter, who has endured 28 surgeries and lingering medical issues, pleaded with the Alabama Board to keep her mother behind bars, WSFA reported.
“I can’t imagine anyone being in as much pain as I went through mentally and physically,” Ashley said in her letter she bravely read out to the board.
“Now I have a great life thanks to my mum, dad, stepbrothers and sisters.”
Ashley has endured 28 surgeries and lingering medical issues. Source: Elmore County’s District Attorney’s office.
Ashley has endured 28 surgeries and lingering medical issues. Source: Elmore County’s District Attorney’s office.Source:Supplied
Ashley, who has been raised by her aunty and uncle and refers to them as her parents, said she did not trust her biological mother — particularly around her niece, 8, and 27-month-old nephew.
“They are about the same ages as me and [my sister] Courtney when this happened,” she told the board.
“I honestly do not trust her and I’m afraid for their safety.”
Amazingly, the mature young girl says she has found it in her broken heart to forgive her mother for the horrifying act.
“I do not hate Melissa, but I do not love her. I forgave Melissa,” she said, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.
Ashley’s older sister Courtney Brunson has taken that sense of forgiveness even further, asking the board for an early parole for her mother, calling her a “changed woman”.
“I was only eight years old when it happened, she was different,” Courtney said. “I seen [sic] what happened. I know how she was. She was not herself.”
Wright will be up for parole again in 2021. Source: WSFA.
Wright will be up for parole again in 2021. Source: WSFA.Source:Supplied
VOICES TOLD HER TO PUT THE BABY IN THE OVEN
Wright, who lived in Harm’s Way in Coosada, Alabama, initially told police that her baby “fell in the oven and the door slammed shut”.
However, her unlikely version of events changed to imply she had an altered state of mine claiming that “voices told her to put the baby in the oven” telling her “that I needed to trust Jesus”.
When police searched Wright’s trailer, they discovered anti-anxiety and depression medication.
Friends and neighbours told media at the time of the tragedy that Wright had become increasingly unstable.
What played out on that fateful day would suggest that Wright was not sound of mind.
“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.
Distressing pictures of Ashley’s burn wounds and stretched scar tissue as a toddler played a crucial part in the board’s decision.
Mr Houston said Ashley’s physical and emotional healing is nothing short of extraordinary.
“She is an extremely strong child,” he said. “How many adults can undergo the number of surgeries she has gone through in her life? That’s just incredible.”
The board was impressed with Ashley’s recovery. Source: WSFA.Source:Supplied
After a brief discussion among the board, Wright’s parole was rejected.
A board member spoke directly to Ashley expressing that he was impressed with her incredible recovery.
“Good luck to you, we are really sorry for your troubles,” he said.
Mr Houston said it was important to his office that Wright was sentenced to 25 years, and that she served every single day of her sentencing.
He pointed out that Ashley will be old enough to determine if she wants a relationship with her biological mother at the time of Wright’s release.
“If Melissa had gotten out today, she could have legally enforced her parental rights,” Mr Houston said.
“I think that would have been a horrible thing for Ashley.”
Wright will be up for parole again in 2021.