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Evidentiary hearing set in Kelsey Smith-Briggs case

Judge plans to hear testimony about alleged juror misconduct during mother's 2007 trial.
BY NOLAN CLAY Modified: August 1, 2010 at 12:44 am •  Published: August 1, 2010
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The website, Kelsey's Purpose, was created after the girl's death and at times had information critical of Raye Dawn Smith.

Bowman wrote he and the juror then worked in Sapulpa at a home health care agency. He wrote he had hired her and was training her to take over his position. In a separate affidavit, Bowman's roommate, Sean Clack, wrote in 2008 that he overhead the daily conversations.

"Ms. Oldham admitted to Mr. Bowman that she often went on the Internet and conducted research about Ms. Smith's case during the trial. She would check and see what was being reported about the case online," Clack stated. "Ms. Oldham also admitted to my roommate... that she had reviewed the Kelsey Briggs' website during the trial. Ms. Oldham told Mr. Bowman numerous times she was bored with the whole thing."

Men may testify

The mother's attorney, Stephen Jones of Enid, said the two men probably will testify at the hearing.

"I think she did that," Jones said of the misconduct claims. "There would be no reason these two guys would misrepresent it."

The prosecutor, Lincoln County District Attorney Richard Smothermon, said Friday he expects the appeals court will uphold the conviction.

Asked about Bowman's statement, he said, "I think the evidence will show that not to be true."

"Based upon the interviews that I have done since the trial with the jurors, I don't believe there has been any misconduct," the prosecutor said.

Kelsey died on Oct. 11, 2005, at her home near Meeker. The death was ruled a homicide but no one was convicted of murder in her case.

Kelsey's stepfather, Michael Lee Porter, 30, was charged with first-degree murder and child sexual abuse but pleaded guilty to enabling child abuse. He is serving a 30-year prison sentence. He blamed the girl's mother for her death.

The mother was never charged with murder. Jurors on July 18, 2007, found her guilty of enabling child abuse and compromised on her punishment. Some wanted more time and some wanted less, a juror said afterward.

Smith blames Porter for Kelsey's death.

During 2005, Kelsey suffered repeated injuries, including two broken legs and a broken collarbone, and was taken from her mother for a time. Her death came four months after the state judge returned Kelsey to her mother, despite accusations the mother was the abuser.

The evidentiary hearing was assigned to a Kay County judge because the trial judge is retiring.


AT A GLANCE

Orders

The judge has been ordered to determine:

Whether a female juror "received evidence outside the courtroom by way of searching the Internet, watching news media or any other source."

If so, whether the juror "shared the information about the case with other jurors or other persons."

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