Abuse Suspect Heads To Court

Sunday, March 25th 2007, 6:27 pm
By: News On 6

A trial is scheduled to begin today for an eastern Oklahoma woman accused of abusing her 4-year-old nephew. Officials say when they first began investigating this case, the boy looked starved. Muskogee County authorities say boy was so underfed that his bones had stopped growing properly, and he needed a cane to stand. Earlier this year, the child’s mother, Melanie Smith, was sentenced to 16 years for child neglect, but a Muskogee County jury decided she wasn't guilty of abuse.

The News On 6’s Heather Lewin was in the courtroom when the little boy gave his version of the story. She reports the jury believed his aunt was responsible for the abuse.

When authorities took the victim away from his mother in June of 2005 the little boy was badly malnourished and covered in bruises. Recovering in foster care, the boy age 5 at the time of the trial was able to testify against his mother. But it wasn't just Melanie Smith that authorities suspect abused him, much of the evidence points the finger at Smith's aunt, Sharon Smith.

On the witness stand, the child described various "punishments" at the hands of Aunt Sharon. "She spanked me with a stick on my privates. She stepped on my feet. She handcuffed me and then she taped my mouth. I went with the bogeyman in the dark 'cause Sharon threw me in there."

In addition to being starved and forced to sleep in a closet investigators say the boy was forced to hold weights above his head, taped to his hands so he wouldn't drop them.

The child testified when he told his mother about what happened at Sharon's house she told him "too bad."

Sharon Smith's daughter Brenna also faces child abuse charges in the case. Sharon Smith's child abuse trial is scheduled to begin Monday.

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