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Last defense witness testifies in abuse trial

BRISTOW — The mother of Kelsey Smith-Briggs sobbed, "I don't understand. Help me,” in court Wednesday after jurors found her guilty of allowing the girl to be abused.

By Nolan Clay Modified: August 23, 2009 at 9:07 pm •  Published: July 18, 2007
BRISTOW — Jurors at the child abuse trial for Raye Dawn Smith finished hearing testimony this morning and are soon to hear closing arguments.

Jurors heard from a final defense witness and two prosecution rebuttal witnesses. Smith decided not to testify herself.

In the most dramatic testimony Tuesday, a pastor testified Smith cried out to him at a hospital after her daughter died, saying, "Why did God take my baby?”

The defense witness, Charles Pearcy, told jurors he held Smith and said, "I don't know. Let's talk to Him and ask Him.” They then prayed together.

He was one of 10 defense witnesses who have testified so far at Smith's child abuse trial.

Defense attorneys are trying to show the mother did not behave like someone who would abuse a child.

Smith, 27, is charged with child abuse or enabling child abuse. Her daughter, Kelsey Smith-Briggs, 2, died Oct. 11, 2005, at their home near Meeker. Kelsey was taken to the Prague hospital that afternoon in a failed effort to revive her.

Prosecutors allege the mother either abused Kelsey or knew or should have known her then-husband was abusing the girl and did not stop it.

She denies wrongdoing. Her attorneys say her then-husband, Michael Lee Porter, killed the girl.

Pearcy, pastor of the Meeker Assembly of God, said Smith was part of the church off and on for years. He described how the mother reacted at the hospital when told Kelsey's body would be autopsied. He recalled she said, "I'm glad, because I want to know what has happened to my baby.”

He also described how Smith rocked Kelsey's body at the hospital and talked to the dead child.

"I can never talk about this without choking up,” the pastor said. "I'll never forget it.”

The pastor testified Porter acted strangely at the hospital. The witness said Porter also questioned why God took Kelsey, made agonizing noises, bounced off the walls and beat his fists on the floor. Porter did not comfort his wife, jurors were told.

The pastor said he thought Porter was overreacting, that there was something that didn't seem right.

"It bothered me. It really troubled me that he was responding the way he was responding,” Pearcy said.

He said Porter seemed to have a tremendous amount of guilt. The pastor said Porter explained he was with Kelsey at the house and thought the child was having a seizure.

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