The girl had already endured her fourth surgery by the time her mother faced a judge for the final time Thursday in Sacramento Superior Court.
The 8-year-old is strong, but she’s angry and emotional, her aunt told the judge, and she can’t understand why her mother set her on fire. A fifth surgery is scheduled for June, once school ends.
“This has really been our worst nightmare,” Stacey Cisneros said, addressing the court as Porche Latrice Wright, 27, stood emotionless in the courtroom’s cell, then spoke directly to Wright.
“My niece really loves her mother, but she has a lot of questions we know you can’t answer.”
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Wright was sentenced Thursday to 10 years to life in state prison for attempted murder and inflicting great bodily injury after setting fire to her daughter last April, severely burning the child from head to foot in a crime that a Sacramento Superior Court judge said was beyond words.
She’s 8. She wants to know why. She remembers everything. She loves her mother. She always wanted to be with her mother.
Stacey Cisneros, aunt of girl burned at age 7 when her mother doused her in gasoline and set her on fire
“We see a lot of horrible things come through here, but this is incomprehensible. This is a horrible act,” said Judge Geoffrey Goodman in handing down the sentence. Wright pleaded no contest to the crimes in January. She received an indeterminate term of seven years to life, plus three years for a great bodily injury allegation. As part of the sentence, Goodman ordered that Wright can no longer have any contact with her daughter.
The girl was burned over 40 percent of her body including her neck, chest, arms and legs. Roughly 80 percent of those burns were third degree.
Wright had a record of domestic violence. She had completed a batterer’s treatment program to settle a 2014 felony domestic violence charge in Sacramento County and was scheduled to appear in a Sacramento courtroom to show proof she had finished the program when she was arrested.
Wright had grown angry with her then-7-year-old daughter the night of April 3, 2015, at their El Camino Avenue duplex, walking into a bedroom to return with a canister of what the girl called “hot oil.”
Wright soaked her daughter with gasoline, marched her into the bathroom, locked the door behind them, then doused the girl again before setting her on fire with a lighter, Sacramento police officers testified at Wright’s preliminary hearing last August.
Wright’s boyfriend, who was not home at the time of the incident, returned to find the girl, whom Wright didn’t want to take to the hospital, authorities testified. Wright instead asked him to go to a neighborhood drugstore for burn cream. He left the duplex, called 911, then walked to a nearby fire station to tell firefighters what had happened.
Officers who investigated the crime detailed in intensely disturbing testimony at that hearing what they found inside the home: A distraught Wright. A little girl standing in the hallway covered in burns. The heavy odor of gasoline that grew stronger as officers made their way to the bathroom. The char marks on the wall around the bathtub.
Sacramento County prosecutors said the girl was aflame long enough to leave scorch marks in the tub.
Wright’s daughter suffered third- and second-degree burns that cover 40 percent of her body, including her neck, chest, arms and legs. Eighty percent of those are third-degree burns, prosecutors said.
The damage is greatest on her left side, Cisneros said after the hearing. Surgeons take grafts from the girl’s back to repair her burned skin, and she wears pressure garments to help her body heal.
She will have to undergo surgeries until she is at least 21, Cisneros said Thursday, and will be scarred for life.
“She’s 8. She wants to know why,” Cisneros said. “She remembers everything. She loves her mother. She always wanted to be with her mother.”
The girl was burned over 40 percent of her body, including her neck, chest, arms and legs.