Jury Convicts Muskogee County Woman On Two Of Three Charges
Friday, November 3rd 2006, 6:03 am
By: News On 6
A Green Country mother accused of beating and starving her 4 year-old son gets a split decision.
A jury convicted her of neglect, but dismissed charges of abuse.
The News on 6 was the only station there when the verdict was read. News on 6 reporter Joshua Brakhage says Melanie Smith walked out of the courtroom in handcuffs, after hearing the jury's verdict. We asked if she had anything to say, "No I don't.â€
Smith's demeanor was drastically different than in pictures of her and her little boy.
Recent pictures of her son are drastically different as well. His starved, skinny legs illustrated how malnourished he was. Experts say his bones had stopped growing properly. The 4 year-old struggled to stand, and used a cane to prop himself up.
The boy himself testified how his "mean mommy" would beat him with a belt.
Prosecutors say Melanie Smith and two other family members tortured her son, including forcing him to hold weights above his head until he collapsed.
Jurors said the abuse was undeniable. They just weren't convinced Smith was responsible. They found her guilty of neglect and child endangerment, but couldn't convict on the charges of abuse.
Melanie Smith's attorney wouldn't comment after the case, "I'm getting ready to go to the house. I appreciate you coming in. No comment."
Prosecutors admit much of the evidence points to other family members, and say they were satisfied with the verdict and future Smith's son now has. "Of course one of my chief concerns was to make sure that she would never have control over his environment again. I think we have accomplished that," said prosecutor John David Luton.
Smith could receive up to a life sentence. The jury recommended she spend the next 16 years in prison.
Melanie Smith's husband Roy, who is also her half-brother, testified against her, saying did beat and kick her son. He still faces charges of abuse, neglect, and child endangerment. His trial is in February.
The boy's aunt, Sharon Smith also faces child abuse charges.