BRISTOW — The outspoken grandmother of Kelsey Smith-Briggs told jurors today that the 2-year-old had changed for the worse when they were last together weeks before her death. "She was different,” Kathie Briggs said of the Aug. 27, 2005, visit. "She looked like she had lost her spirit.” Her testimony came on the third day of the child-abuse trial for Kelsey's mother, Raye Dawn Smith. Kelsey died Oct. 11, 2005, at the home of her mother and stepfather near Meeker. "We didn't have an open casket,” Briggs said. "I never saw Kelsey again.” Prosecutors today called Briggs and Kelsey's stepmother, Ashley Gober, to testify that they saw injuries on Kelsey in 2005 after she had been with her mother. Jurors have heard about Kelsey's broken collarbone, broken legs, bumps around her nose and bruises on her face, back and rear. Briggs is the paternal grandmother. She has been vocal in calling for justice and reforms since Kelsey's death. Her efforts contributed to the passage of a new law and the election defeat of the judge who gave Kelsey back to her mother four months before her death. Briggs got guardianship of Kelsey for awhile after Kelsey's stepmother found suspicious bruises and injuries on the child's back and rear on Jan. 14, 2005, days after Kelsey broke her collarbone while with her mother, according to testimony. She eventually was going back and forth between Briggs' house and her mother for a couple of months, according to testimony. Her father, Lance Briggs, was in the military but she saw him when he was on leave. Kelsey was put in the care of her maternal grandmother, Gayla Smith, after breaking both legs in April 2005. A judge ruled Kelsey could go back to her mother immediately on June 15, 2005. She had been with her mother all the time for two months when Kathie Briggs last saw her. In testimony about the legs, Kathie Briggs said she was told that Kelsey had sprained her ankle at the zoo. She said later Kelsey was returned to her with casts on both legs. She said she took Kelsey to an Oklahoma City doctor in May 2005 and was told there Kelsey had been abused. "I was nauseous,” Briggs said. Jurors on Tuesday heard from Kelsey's stepfather, who said in a choked voice that he saw Smith abuse the child three times and covered it up. "I was protecting the wrong person,” said Michael Lee Porter, who wore orange jail clothes and remained handcuffed and in leg irons while testifying. "I was trying to protect my wife. It was a mistake and I'm paying for that mistake and Kelsey's paying for it.” He and Smith married in April 2005 and divorced after Kelsey's death. Prosecutors have told jurors they must decide whether Smith, 27, abused her daughter or let Porter abuse the child. She denies wrongdoing. Porter said he knows Smith is responsible for Kelsey's death. He described finding the child in bed not breathing after hearing a guttural noise after Smith left their house the afternoon of Oct. 11, 2005. "She was blue,” he said. Porter, 27, once was charged with sexually assaulting and murdering Kelsey but pleaded guilty days before his trial in February to enabling child abuse. Under a deal with prosecutors, he is serving 30 years in prison. He denied again Tuesday that he ever hurt Kelsey. His appearance was unusual because prosecutors let him testify even though they say they don't believe his denials. District Attorney Richard Smothermon bluntly revealed in front of the jury that he still believes Porter sexually assaulted and murdered the child. Porter told jurors he saw Smith swat Kelsey excessively in January 2005, hit her in the stomach twice with a closed fist in July 2005 and jerk her from a car and throw her in a chair two days before her death. He said he warned Smith after the abuse in July 2005 that they would split up if he ever saw that again. He testified that she replied, "All I have to do is blame it all on you.” Defense attorney Steve Huddleston called the testimony ludicrous. The attorney said, for instance, that Porter never would have left Smith alone with his son and his daughter from other relationships if he had really seen such abuse. "No one who is a parent would do that,” the attorney said. The attorney also said Porter had told a judge Smith was a great mother and had told the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation that Smith would never hurt Kelsey. Porter replied, "I did lie a lot for my ex-wife. ... I'm through lying for her.” Earlier Tuesday, Smith wept again as jurors saw autopsy photos and diagrams of the bruises, scrapes and other injuries to Kelsey's body. The trial judge, Paul Vassar, at one point abruptly called a break as her sobbing grew louder. Smith wept during much of the testimony about the first autopsy. She looked down or put her face in her hands as photos were projected on a large screen about 10 feet from her. The state doctor who did the first autopsy testified Kelsey died from blunt force trauma to the abdomen. "It appeared to me that there was more than one impact,” said Dr. Inas Yacoub, who works for the state chief medical examiner. Jurors Tuesday were shown photos of bruises on Kelsey's abdomen, face, chest, thighs, legs and right hand, photos of abrasions on her back and a photo of a tissue tear inside her mouth. The doctor said those injuries were recent. The doctor testified Kelsey suffered genital injuries but she said she is uncertain if it came from a sexual attack or a low blow. She said Kelsey also had bruises to the back of her head. Jurors learned during defense questions that a private Indiana doctor had concluded Kelsey was injured from a sexual assault. The Indiana doctor made that finding after performing a second autopsy after Kelsey's body was exhumed at the request of prosecutors.
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