BRISTOW — The mother of Kelsey Smith-Briggs passed up her chance Monday to ask a judge for mercy or to again claim she is innocent. Instead, Raye Dawn Smith looked toward her former mother-in-law and said, "Kathie, I forgive you.”
The judge then ordered Smith to serve 27 years in prison for enabling child abuse. The formal sentencing lasted only four minutes. "She's demented,” Kathie Briggs said afterward. Jurors in July found Smith guilty of allowing her then-second husband to abuse Kelsey. They chose punishment of 27 years. Kelsey, 2, died Oct. 11, 2005, at her home near Meeker. Doctors determined she died from abuse. Jurors heard testimony that Kelsey had been abused for months, suffering broken bones, bruises, a sexual assault and other injuries. Smith, 27, could have asked Judge Paul Vassar on Monday to suspend part or all of her sentence. Instead, she stood up, looked at Briggs on the second row of the courtroom and said, "Kathie, I forgive you.” Smith sat down without saying anything else. Her new attorney, Stephen Jones of Enid, would not elaborate afterward on what she meant. At trial, her former attorneys suggested Briggs pressured prosecutors into charging Smith. Briggs and others in the courtroom Monday laughed briefly after Smith spoke. "I did have to chuckle just a bit,” Briggs said. "She still blames the people that tried to save Kelsey. I was terribly shocked. She finally had a chance — one last chance — to stand up and say, ‘I'm sorry, Kelsey,' and instead she addressed me.” Smith's new attorney said he will ask the judge for a new trial. He has until Oct. 22 to make the request. "An injustice has been committed here,” Jones told reporters after the sentencing. "The evidence that would clear Raye Dawn was not heard by the jury.” He also claimed some evidence the jury did hear "was false, overstated and went beyond reasonable medical certainty.” Smith did not testify at her trial. In an Aug. 2 statement written for the judge, she again denied wrongdoing. "I have always felt this was a conspiracy against me,” Smith wrote. "I also believe that there are people guilty of things running free. ... Kathie Briggs knows I didn't hurt Kelsey, and she knows I didn't sit back and let it happen.”
Vocal grandmotherBriggs has been vocal since Kelsey's death, calling for justice for her granddaughter and changes in the handling of child-abuse cases. Presentencing report
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Attorney Stephen Jones, who represents Raye Dawn Smith, walks with an assistant outside the courtroom. By JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN