Mom wants tougher sentence for woman who dipped girl's hand in scalding water

By Kumasi Aaron - Reporter/The Morning Show anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville mother wants a tougher sentence for the woman who scarred her little girl for life.

Nicovia Melton believes the babysitter who dipped her daughter's hand in scalding water got off too easy.

Judge Suzanne Bass sentenced 30-year-old Nicole Brown to one year of community supervision, three years of probation, 250 hours of community service, and $375 in court costs after she pleaded guilty to aggravated child abuse and child neglect of 3-year-old Nia'Miah Melton.

Brown was facing five to 15 years in prison.

Now the State Attorneys office is stepping in with plans to appeal the judge's decision.

Nicovia says she doesn't know what she wants the sentence to be, but what Bass handed down wasn't strong enough. Bass wouldn't comment Monday about the ruling.

Nia'Miah's hand is still a little discolored, but it's come a long way from what it looked like in September, when her mother says she left her alone with her friend Brown to run an errand. When she came back, she found her daughter with her hand severely burned.

"A full glove burn, meaning the front and back of her hand, the skin was gone," Nicovia said.

She said Brown told her Nia'Miah's brother held her hand under a faucet. But doctors at UF Health Jacksonville told police the second- and third-degree burns didn't match that story. They told Nicovia the burn came from someone holding the girl's hand down in some kind of container full of scalding hot water.

"It had to be, because around her wrist is where the burn starts all the way down her hand," Nicovia said. "Her nails melted off. That's just how bad the burn was."

Brown initially pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated child abuse and child neglect. But when she changed her plea to guilty, Bass issued her sentence.

"That's not justifiable to me," Nicovia said. "My daughter has a scar on her hand that she has to walk around with for the rest of her life. And that life sentence, meaning basically it's just a slap on the wrist."

The state attorney's office is backing her up. It released a statement saying, "The State Attorney's Office has filed a notice to appeal Ms. Brown's sentence. The SAO is currently working with the Attorney General's Office on that appeal."

This isn't the first time a decision Bass made has been questioned. Earlier this year she allowed two sisters found guilty of attempted murder out on bond until sentencing. And last month she recused herself as judge of the Michael Dunn case after the defense alleged bias.

While Melton admits this is about justice for her daughter, it's also about the safety of other children.

"She can do this to somebody else's child," Nicovia said. "She have a child of her own, and I feel like if she do it to mine, what if she do it to someone else's?"

Nicovia said she hasn't spoken to Brown since all this happened. Brown was unavailable for comment at her home Monday.

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