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Kelsey's mother gets 27 years in prison

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By Nolan Clay Modified: September 10, 2007 at 2:20 pm •  Published: September 10, 2007
BRISTOW — The mother of Kelsey Smith-Briggs used her moment to speak at her formal sentencing today to say to her former mother-in-law, "Kathie, I forgive you.”

The judge then ordered Raye Dawn Smith to serve 27 years in prison for enabling child abuse.

The sentencing lasted only four minutes.

"She's demented,” Kathie Briggs said afterward.

"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.”

Jurors in July found Smith guilty of allowing her then-second husband to abuse Kelsey. They chose the punishment of 27 years.

Kelsey, 2, died on 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, still contends she is not guilty. Today, she could have asked the judge to suspend all or part of the punishment but chose not to. Her new attorney, Stephen Jones of Enid, plans to ask for a new trial.

"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. ... Some of the evidence was false, overstated and went beyond reasonable medical certainty.”

Smith did not testify at her trial. At today's formal sentencing, Jones told Judge Paul Vassar she wanted to make a statement. Smith then stood, looked toward her former mother-in-law in the second row and said, "Kathie, I forgive you.” She sat down without saying anything else.

Some in the crowded courtroom laughed briefly. The judge called for quiet and finished the sentencing.

Jones and Smith's mother would not say afterward what she meant by her statement. However, at trial, defense attorneys suggested to jurors that Briggs used her political clout to get prosecutors to charge Smith.

Briggs has been outspoken in calling for justice for Kelsey. Her efforts have led to a new law and contributed to the defeat of the Lincoln County judge who returned Kelsey to her mother four months before the death.

Also, Smith has suggested Briggs is to blame for some of Kelsey's injuries.

"I have always felt this was a conspiracy against me,” Smith claimed in an Aug.

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