NEWKIRK — A juror Wednesday denied accusations of misconduct during a high-profile 2007 child-abuse trial.
The juror, Brandi Oldham, 29, of Tulsa, told a judge she did not watch TV news and did not do improper Internet research about the dead girl's case during the eight-day trial in Bristow.
Oldham said her accuser blames her somewhat for getting fired in 2007 from the home health care company where they both worked.
"He believes I had a part in it," she said.
The testimony came during a fact-finding hearing for Raye Dawn Smith, the mother of Kelsey Smith-Briggs.
Smith, 30, of Meeker, is appealing her conviction for enabling child abuse. Kelsey, 2, died from abuse in 2005. The mother is serving 27 years in prison.
Kay County District Judge D.W. Boyd heard testimony from a dozen witnesses Wednesday on the jury misconduct issue. He will make a report next month to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
The appeals court then will decide whether to uphold the conviction or give Smith a new trial.
About 20 of Smith's supporters showed up for the four-hour hearing.
The misconduct accusations are being made by Smith's attorneys. Prosecutors said the accusations are not true.
Lincoln County District Attorney Richard Smothermon told reporters after the hearing, "I thought the evidence clearly showed that no jury misconduct occurred. I thought it clearly showed it could not have occurred."
The juror's former supervisor, Todd Bowman, 35, of Sapulpa, testified Oldham called him at least twice a day during the trial. He testified she admitted she and other jurors watched news about the trial. He said she remarked reporters didn't really know what was going on at the trial.
He said she also admitted that she had looked at a website about the case. He testified she said information on the website was shocking.
He testified Oldham told him during the trial that Smith looked like trash and should fry.
He said he wrote Smith's appellate attorney, Stephen Jones, on Nov. 16, 2007, after his conscience got the better of him. He said Oldham had told him Smith's attorneys were questioning the integrity of the jury. He said she had asked him not to repeat what she had said during the trial.
He admitted to the district attorney that Nov. 16, 2007, is the same day he was fired from the home health care company.
The juror, Oldham, admitted in her testimony that she called Bowman regularly during the trial. But she said she called only because she was doing some marketing work for their company on lunch breaks and was just checking in. She said she also discussed with him the trial schedule.
"They were very work-specific conversations," she said.
Oldham then lived with her parents. Supporting her testimony were her father and other jurors.
Her father, a computer technician, testified Wednesday she did not watch the news during the trial and only got on the computer at home to check e-mails.
He said he monitored the family's Internet usage because he worried about Internet viruses damaging the computer.
He said he asked her one day how it was going, and she replied, "Dad, you know I can't talk about it."
Six jurors testified Wednesday that Oldham never brought up any information from TV news or the Internet during the trial.
Contradicting the accuser's testimony was evidence that Kelsey's Purpose, the main website devoted to Kelsey's case, had been basically shut down during the trial. Kelsey's grandmother, Kathie Briggs, said the family closed down the website at the request of prosecutors until after the verdict.
No one was convicted
of murder in case
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, 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 Smith 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, one juror said afterward.
Smith blamed Porter for Kelsey's death.
The tragedy exposed serious flaws in how the state protects children because, at the time of Kelsey's death, both the state Department of Human Services and a judge were overseeing her care because of abuse allegations.
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.