Mother begins serving sentence that even daughter thinks is too short

Date: 2007-05-27

TRENTON, Tenn. (AP) - A West Tennessee woman who pleaded "no contest" to child abuse charges has begun serving her six-month sentence in Trenton.

Debra Schmitz spent her first full day behind bars in a case that prompted the state to remove 18 children from the home of Debra and Tom Schmitz in Gibson County.

Also Wednesday, Schmitz's biological daughter, Melanie Schmitz said she was glad her mother went to jail, but told The Jackson Sun by telephone from Green Bay, Wisconsin, it's terrible that Schmitz's punishment is no more than if she had abused a dog.

Tom Schmitz plea bargained for a year of probation and the charges will be dismissed if he completes the agreement.

Court records show the Schmitzes now live in Carroll County. The couple have an appeal pending in Juvenile Court to regain custody of some of the children. Debra Schmitz's mother Shirley Hogan also told the Sun her daughter should have received a longer sentence.

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