BRISTOW — The mother of Kelsey Smith-Briggs has lost her first bid for a new trial. Raye Dawn Smith is serving 27 years in prison for enabling child abuse. Jurors in July found Smith, 28, guilty of allowing her then-husband to abuse Kelsey. In a decision filed Tuesday, her trial judge, Paul Vassar, rejected all nine of her complaints. Her new attorney, Stephen Jones of Enid, said he now will appeal to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. Kelsey, 2, died Oct. 11, 2005, at her home near Meeker. Doctors determined she died from abuse. Jurors heard testimony that Kelsey was abused for months, suffering a broken collarbone, broken legs, bruises, sexual assault and other injuries. Smith contends she is innocent.
What were her arguments?Her complaints about the trial included a claim that as many as nine jurors slept during testimony. The judge wrote that allegation "is absolutely false and untrue.” "It did not happen,” the judge wrote. "I observed one juror who on one day appeared to be asleep. I immediately admonished the jury on the record to remain alert and then recessed court. I continued to monitor the jury in general and this juror in particular and saw no repetition of this behavior. No other juror ever gave any appearance whatsoever of falling asleep.” Another key complaint focused on District Attorney Richard Smothermon. Smith's attorney contended the district attorney lives in Edmond, outside his district of Lincoln and Pottawatomie counties, so he was not qualified to prosecute her. Jones contends Smothermon has lied about where he lives and maintains a house in Shawnee as "a political disguise.” The judge wrote that Smith's defense team spent consider-able effort on this argument, including "literally going through someone's garbage.” The judge wrote: "The argument is irrelevant. Irrespective of where the district attorney spends the night, he was certainly clothed with all the mantles of the office and exercised all of its powers and functions. At worst, he was a de facto officer. No objection to his authority or any similar motion was raised at trial.” Kelsey's stepfather, Michael Lee Porter, is serving 30 years in prison. Porter, 27, was charged with sexually abusing and murdering Kelsey, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of enabling child abuse after reaching a deal with prosecutors.
Raye Dawn Smith