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Pastor tells about day Kelsey died

By Nolan Clay Modified: July 17, 2007 at 11:42 pm •  Published: July 17, 2007
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BRISTOW — A pastor testified Tuesday that Raye Dawn 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 nine defense witnesses who have testified so far at Smith's child-abuse trial. Jurors today are to hear from at least one more defense witness and, possibly, closing arguments.

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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Judge won't testify
A controversial former judge will not be testifying at the child-abuse trial for the mother of Kelsey Smith-Briggs.

Former Lincoln County Associate District Judge Craig Key has been widely criticized for returning the toddler to her mother four months before the girl's death. The mother's attorneys wanted to use him as a defense witness. The trial judge, Paul Vassar, refused Tuesday to allow it, without explanation. Prosecutors had warned letting the ex-judge testify could turn the trial into a circus.

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