On August 28, 2015, three children – ages 3, 4 and 18 months – were left alone in an apartment in North Baltimore, when a fire broke out. Two of the children survived the fire, but the third child, 4-year-old Szki Wright died from smoke inhalation.
The mother, Brittany Montgomery, 26, had left the apartment in the 800 block of Dartmouth Road to visit a neighbor one floor above. Grease from a pan sitting on the stove ignited and caused the fire, according to court records. Montgomery’s attorney, Gregory Fischer, said it is believed that one of the children turned the stove on.
Baltimore Circuit Judge Lynn Steward Mays decides not to charge Montgomery in the case, as she had no prior criminal record and no history of social services complaints. Mays noted that Montgomery was a “doting mother who made a mistake.”
“At this point, the burden you have to bear is more than anything this court could do,” Mays said.
Mays went on to say the fire was “clearly an accident.”
Initially, the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office sought a five-year prison sentence for Montgomery and charged her with manslaughter.
Montgomery was able to save the 3-year-old and 18-month-old, but could not locate Szki, with the thick smoke.
“I was supposed to make sure these things didn’t happen. I failed,” Montgomery told the judge.
Fischer said the mother was “the only one with the courage and gumption” to enter the apartment.
Montgomery’s drug-addicted parents abandoned her and for years, she struggled with mental illness. Since her daughter’s death, Montgomery has been undergoing mental health treatment and parenting classes, according to her attorney.
Montgomery was placed on five years of probation and awarded visitation rights.