I've been amazed by The Post many times in the past 14 months, but I have to speak about the article "Likelihood of a Fair Trial Debated in Brannen Case" {Metro, Jan. 14}.

A horrible crime was committed 14 months ago. No one can deny that my daughter, Melissa Lee Brannen, was abducted.

A man was indicted for that crime. Obviously, the state of Virginia believes that he is guilty. To my knowledge, no man nor woman has ever been brought to trial without that belief.

Many of the reasons for the man's indictment have been publicized. All of those reasons will be presented as evidence in court and judged. Caleb Daniel Hughes's name was not pulled out of a hat.

The issue is not the nature of the crime, or my daughter's smile or my pain. The jury's responsibility is to weigh the evidence presented by the prosecution and the defense to determine whether this man committed the crime. That a crime was committed is not the issue -- who was responsible is what the jury must decide.

The magnitude of the crime should not be an issue until the responsible party is convicted and ready to be sentenced. If I sat on such a jury, my concern would be whether the state had found the right man. We owe it to our children to find and prosecute the guilty party to the fullest extent of the law. I have every faith in our justice system and the people of Virginia that this case can be tried fairly, which is all that I or Mr. Hughes can expect.

Finally, I hate to inform Mr. Hughes's attorney Peter D. Greenspun, the media and the community, but this trial does not bring "finality." There is no finality. A little girl is still lost, and there will always be a mother's pain.

Conviction or an acquittal does not bring resolution until my daughter is found. It could, however, prevent another crime from happening.

TAMMY BRANNEN Fairfax