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Kelsey lost her spirit weeks before death, grandmother testifies

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.

By Nolan Clay Modified: August 23, 2009 at 9:04 pm •  Published: July 11, 2007
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, 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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