Fourteen years after suffering horrific burns to 30 per cent of her body, Ashley Smith looks every bit the healthy, happy teenager — but she almost didn’t survive.
In 2002, when she was just an infant, her mother Melissa Wright nearly killed her by putting her inside a hot oven.
Wright was sentenced to 25 years in prison, where she will now remain after the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles denied her request for early release.
Graphic images of Smith covered in third-degree burns were part of the reason Wright was refused, along with testimony from the teenager who told the board she couldn’t “imagine anybody being in as much pain as I was in.”
L: Ashley's burns covered 30 per cent of her body. R: Melissa Wright. Source: Alabama Department of Corrections
Smith, 14, has been raised by her aunt and uncle, who she considers to be her parents, and said she does not trust her mum, especially around her young cousins, aged eight and 27 months.
"They are about the same ages as me and Courtney when this happened," she said, according to the Daily Mail.
"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. And now I have a great life thanks to my mum, stepdad and brothers and sisters."
Local District Attorney Randall Houston said Smith deserved the right grow up away from her abusive mother.
"If Melissa had gotten out today, she could have legally enforced her parental rights," he told WSFA.