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Kelsey Smith-Briggs' mom won't get money from settlement

BY NOLAN CLAY Modified: February 10, 2010 at 4:16 am •  Published: February 10, 2010
A federal judge Tuesday ruled Kelsey Smith-Briggs’ mother cannot share in a lawsuit settlement over her daughter’s death because of her own wrongdoing.

Raye Dawn Smith, 30, wanted half of the $345,097 left over from the settlement. She is in prison for enabling her daughter’s abuse.

U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti gave all the money to Kelsey’s father, Lance Briggs.

"The evidence clearly established that Ms. Smith was aware Kelsey was being harmed, and at the very least, she culpably failed to protect Kelsey from abuse. Equity dictates that one ought not benefit from her own wrong,” the judge ruled.

Lance Briggs said Tuesday, "I think justice has prevailed.”

He said he will give some of the money to a foundation named after his daughter that supports child abuse awareness and other things.

Kelsey died from abuse Oct. 11, 2005, at her home near Meeker. She had suffered repeated injuries that year, including two broken legs and a broken collarbone. The case was one of the most highly publicized murder cases in Oklahoma for the next two years.

Smith testified in January she wanted half of the settlement to repay her family for her legal expenses. She said she would give anything left after that to an infant crisis center in Oklahoma City and a children’s hospital.

She is appealing her conviction.

Lance Briggs filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in 2006 against the state Department of Human Services and others.

Last year, the state paid $525,000 to settle the lawsuit, and a private agency paid $100,000. Attorneys got 40 percent of the settlement plus expenses. Raye Dawn Smith asked for a share after the settlement was complete.

Lance Briggs was returning from military duty when Kelsey died. He had been in Kuwait and Iraq with the U.S. Army. His attorneys told the judge, "He loved his daughter. Ongoing coverage Oklahoma's Children: Dying Too Young has disabled the comments for this article.