HOUSTON -- Emma Thompson was a 4 year old with a big smile and bright red hair whose photos captured hearts around the world. Her story broke those same hearts.
Emma was already dead when she arrived at a Houston-area emergency room with 80 bruises and a fractured skull. She was tortured and repeatedly raped by her mother’s boyfriend, Lucas Coe.
The mother, Abigail Young, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for failing to protect her daughter. After only two years behind bars, she’s already up for parole.
Emma’s grandmother was furious when she got the letter from the parole board.
"And the letter was informing us that Abigail Young, Emma’s mother, was now eligible for parole after serving only 19 months of a 20-year sentence," Laurie Thompson said. "And what we have is the perpetrator getting rights, whereas the victim has no rights at all. Emma will never have 20 years of life."
Thompson said she is still haunted by the fact that Emma, her granddaughter, never had a voice.
"Emma was never able to tell us what was happening. Emma never felt safe enough to come to anyone," Thompson said.
No one expects Young to be paroled the first time around, but that’s not the point.
"Every eight months, Laurie Thompson and other family members will be receiving a letter in the mail advising them that Young is up for parole consideration," said Andy Kahan, a victim’s rights advocate. "They will never get a break."
Kahan and the Thompson family plan to lobby for changes to the law in Emma’s name next legislative session.