AUSTIN, Tex. (KBTX) - A Texas family says legal loopholes could mean an early release for a mother charged with neglect in her four-year-old daughter's murder.
Emma Thompson died in 2009. Since then, aunt Amanda Mathews has been fighting to keep Emma's mom, Abigail Young behind bars.
"To everybody else, it's a story in a newspaper. To us it is real life," said Mathews.
Tuesday Mathews traveled to Austin to tell the parole board why she believes Young does not deserve a second chance before the end of her sentence.
"There is no rehabilitation without remorse, in my opinion. It's important for her to stay there for the protection of her surviving daughters, all of us that testified against her. She needs to serve her time," she said.
It's been ten years and Mathews says she hasn't fully shaken the pain of losing her niece.
"Her case is so traumatic," said Mathews. "What she endured in the short seven weeks of the abuse, it is hard to realize what she went through. She was four. She was a baby."
The young girl was physically and sexually abused at the hands of her mother's boyfriend, Lucas Coe.
Coe was given a life sentence. Emma's mother got 20 years because prosecutors said Young failed to keep the child safe.
"She never gets to go to high school," said Mathews. "She never gets to go to prom. She doesn't have a life because my sister made the choice not to protect her child."
What Mathews discussed the parole board is confidential, but she says it's important for the public to know the fight isn't over.
"I made the choice to stand up for Emma, and in doing so, I lost everybody on that side of my family. Emma is what mattered and I will fight for the full 20 years every year until I no longer can," she said.
The parole board could have a decision on Young's parole eligibility as soon as August.
If you would like to send a letter to the parole board for this case, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or fax (512) 452-0825.
You can also mail letters to:
Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice
Victim Services Division
8712 Shoal Creek Blvd., Ste. 265
Austin, TX 78757