After testimony in which Sacramento police describe finding a little girl burned “on her face all the way down to her feet,” her mother, Porche Latrice Wright, was ordered to stand trial in November for allegedly setting fire to the seven-year-old in April.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Sweet scheduled a Nov. 19 trial date on Wednesday, holding Wright to answer to the attempted murder and mayhem allegations, along with special findings of causing great bodily injury and permanent disfigurement and disability. Officers during the brief but intensely graphic afternoon hearing also provided the first details of the girl’s description of what led to her injuries including being doused with “hot oil,” locked in the bathroom and set afire with a lighter.
Go ahead and laugh in my face
Phillip Monelo, Sacramento police officer relaying what the girl said her mother shouted
Wright’s daughter suffered third- and second-degree burns that covered nearly 40 percent of her body, including her neck, chest, arms and legs, at Wright’s El Camino Avenue duplex the night of April 3.
The girl’s injuries were described by one detective as “severe and very significant,” requiring surgeries well into adulthood.
The testimony came from officers who responded to the duplex on the afternoon of April 4, called by her boyfriend, who was not home at the time of the incident. They described a crying and visibly upset Wright at the door. Wright pointed down the hallway to her grievously injured child with burns “on her face and all the way down to her feet,” one officer recalled.
“I saw a little girl standing in the hallway,” Sacramento police Officer Krista Koppinger said, under questioning from prosecuting deputy district attorney Nancy Cochrane. “She said, ‘Yes, she had set me on fire, but it was an accident.’”
Koppinger said she walked further into the apartment to a strong odor of gasoline that grew heavier as she neared the bathroom. There she found char marks on the wall around the bathtub, she testified.
Another Sacramento officer, Phillip Monelo, said the girl while in a hospital emergency room recounted a horrific scene that began in Wright’s living room.
The girl told Monelo that Wright became angry “because she wasn’t listening to her,” then went into her bedroom, returning with a red bottle.
“Go ahead and laugh in my face,” the girl told the officer Wright shouted. The girl told him that Wright doused her head with a liquid she described as “hot oil,” then marched her to the bathroom and locked the door behind them.
“She stated her mom locked her in the bathroom, poured more of the hot oil on top of her, then set her on fire with a lighter,” Monelo said. Monelo said the girl told him she briefly lost consciousness.
Wright has a history of abuse charges, court records show, and completed a “batterer’s treatment program” to settle a 2014 felony domestic violence charge in Sacramento County. At Wednesday’s hearing, Sacramento police Detective Konrad von Schoech testified that Wright’s boyfriend told him Wright was bipolar, suffered from manic depression and was schizophrenic – conditions amplified by her drug use.
At one point, Wright told her boyfriend she “thought she was losing her mind,” von Schoech testified.
Wright’s boyfriend had left their El Camino Avenue apartment after an argument April 3 before Wright’s daughter was set alight, von Schoech testified.
A phone call from Wright the following day brought him back home. Wright’s boyfriend told von Schoech he opened the door to the smell of gasoline and cried at the sight of the girl. Wright didn’t want him to take the girl to the hospital, but sent him to a nearby drug store for burn cream, Wright’s boyfriend told von Schoech.
Wright’s boyfriend left the duplex, called 911, then walked to a nearby fire station to tell firefighters what had happened.