JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The sister of a woman who dipped a 3-year-old girl's hand in scalding hot water says, if anything, her sentence should be reduced.
Police said Nicole Brown was watching her now-ex-girlfriend's children when Nia'Miah Melton (pictured below) suffered second- and third-degree burns on her hand.
Brown, 30, was sentenced 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. Brown was facing between five and 15 years in prison.
The state attorney's office is appealing the sentencing, and Brown's sister, Latisha Lewis, is speaking out in her defense.
"That's unfair to her as a human being to have to suffer all over again for something she already went through and is trying to get over, and y'all bringing it back into her life again," Lewis said.
Brown was dating Melton's mother, and Brown's sister said she treated the girl like her own. While she doesn't know exactly what happened that day, Lewis said her sister says she didn't burn the girl, and she believes her.
She said she can understand why some people may think her sister got off too easy, but she says trying to go back and push for a tougher sentence is out of line.
"To them, to the outside world that don't know my sister, they feel like that's not fair, that she should have got more time. That's how they feel," Lewis said. "But I feel like my sister shouldn't have got no time because my sister didn't do it."
Brown initially denied the allegations of child abuse and child neglect but then changed her plea to guilty.
"She felt like she didn't do it, so she shouldn't have pleaded to nothing because she felt like she didn't do it," Lewis said.
Lewis admits her sister won't say much about what happened that day, but she says Brown and the toddler's mother, Nicovia Melton, were in a relationship and Brown treated the girl as her own.
"Nicovia even admitted that to Judge Bass she told her everything that Nicole did positive to her children," Lewis said. "So how could it be that she would turn around and hurt a child that you love. I don't believe it could happen like that, I'm sorry."
Bass wouldn't comment about the ruling, but the state attorney's office doesn't agree with it.
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."
"She had been through this and she's thinking she's over this, and then it comes up again," Lewis said. "And now she's going through it all over again, and it's not fair."
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