Court hearing held in a Muskogee County child abuse case

Tuesday, November 22nd 2005, 9:55 am
By: News On 6

A Muskogee County couple charged with child abuse may soon be headed for trial. Roy and Melanie Smith are accused of severely abusing a 4-year-old boy, including handcuffing, beating and starving the child for most of his life.

The two were in court Tuesday in Muskogee County. They were led separately into the courtroom, two people accused of what investigators call torture.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin says at the preliminary hearing, prosecutors laid out their case. A Muskogee Sheriff's Office investigator testified about what the 4-year old boy said he endured inside a rural Muskogee County trailer, at the hands of his mother, Melanie Smith [pictured left] and her aunt, Sharon Smith [pictured right] at her home in Sequoyah County.

The prosecution showed the court photos of red welts on the boy's feet and hip. Witnesses described deplorable conditions at the Smith home, no electricity or food. They said the boy was severely malnourished with stunted growth and that authorities had a hard time interviewing him, "Because so many of the things done to him were so routine that he didn't know they were wrong."

Prosecutor Kristin Littlefield: "There are some very heinous allegations made by the child and we've done a full investigation, the sheriff's office has, and we are pursuing these charges based upon the investigation."

One interesting development Tuesday, co-defendant Roy Smith, who at the time of his bond hearing denied any knowledge of the child being abused, has now agreed to testify against the boy's mother.

Melanie Smith's attorney attacked the prosecution's case, suggesting the statements of a 4-year old aren't always grounded in reality and that those statements are the basis for the claims of abuse against Melanie Smith. Prosecutors say the physical evidence backs up the boy's story.

Melanie Smith's preliminary hearing was continued until late December. The state rested Tuesday, but defense attorneys want to call the little boy to the witness stand.

Another interesting thing about the prosecution of the case. It's a crime investigators say happened in two counties.

Witnesses say most of the alleged abuse seems to have happened at the hands of the aunt Sharon Smith. Handcuffs, tape and a belt were found at her home, not Melanie Smith's, but the boy says both his mother and aunt bound and beat him.