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Published: Friday, 9/15/2006

Woman sent to prison for scalding 4-year-old

Smith Smith

A 21-year-old Toledo woman will serve four years in a state prison for an act that a Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge said was "probably one of the most cruel things that a child can face."

Sharena Smith, in order to punish her 4-year-old cousin for running wildly in her house on Marion Court, dipped him into a bathtub of hot water on May 18.

The boy, Brian Spears, who was under his cousin's care, suffered third-degree burns on his foot and second-degree burns on a toe. He was treated at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.

"He was punished for running around and acting like a 4-year-old," said Lori Olender, an assistant county prosecutor.

Before imposing the prison sentence yesterday, Judge Ruth Ann Franks told Smith that her actions were "totally not acceptable."

Smith, who was convicted of felony child endangering, will serve her sentence at the Marysville Correctional Institution.

Ms. Olender said Smith initially gave authorities different accounts of how the injuries occurred.

She eventually admitted to putting the boy in hot bath water after she warned him not to run in the house.

The victim and the defendant's daughters, ages 2 and 4, were removed from the home by Lucas County Children Services and have been placed with other family members, said Rod Brandt, a spokesman for the agency.

Smith, who was facing up to eight years in prison, was urged by Judge Franks to enroll in prison rehabilitation programs, including classes to obtain a GED.

Judge Franks said Smith would be eligible to apply for early release after serving part of the sentence.

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