A Muskogee County Child Abuse Case Isn't Over Despite A Jury Conviction

Monday, November 6th 2006, 10:41 am
By: News On 6

A Muskogee County mother faces up to 18 years in prison after being convicted in what investigators call one of the worst cases of child abuse they've ever seen.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin covered the entire trial and she says while the jury reached its verdict, the case isn't over.

26-year old Melanie Smith was convicted late Friday night in a Muskogee County courtroom. The jury found Smith guilty on two felony counts, child neglect and endangerment. But they found her not guilty of child 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, now 5, 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 and her 21-year old daughter Brenna will go on trial for child abuse in February in Sequoyah County.

Investigators say Melanie Smith already had two other children taken away, something the jury did not get to hear during the trial.

Because of a court delay, Melanie Smith will be sentenced in December.