BRISTOW — A pastor testified today that Raye Dawn Smith cried out to him at the hospital after her daughter died Oct. 11, 2005, asking, "Why did God take my baby?” Pastor 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. Pearcy, pastor at the Meeker Assembly of God church, was the sixth defense witness called during the child-abuse trial, now in its second week. Smith's attorneys today continued to try to show she did not behave like someone who would abuse or kill her daughter. 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 hurt Kelsey herself or let her then-husband, Michael Lee Porter, hurt the girl. She denies wrongdoing. Her attorneys say Porter killed the girl. The pastor said Smith has gone to the church off and on for years. He described how Smith reacted when told Kelsey's body would be autopsied. He said she said she was glad because she wanted to know what had happened to her baby. He also told jurors Smith was allowed to hold Kelsey's body at the hospital. He described Smith as rocking and talking to "the dead baby.” "I can never talk about this without choking up,” the pastor said. "I'll never forget it.” The pastor testified Porter was at the hospital, also questioning why God took Kelsey. The pastor said Porter made an agonizing noise, 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. He said Porter explained he was left with Kelsey at the house and thought the child was having a seizure. The pastor said Porter claimed he tried to revive her by giving the child CPR. "He said, ‘I just hope I wasn't too rough with her,'” the pastor said. Porter, 27, denies hurting Kelsey and told jurors last week he believes his ex-wife is responsible for Kelsey's death. She had left him with Kelsey to pick up his own daughter, Whitney, after he arrived home from work. The two divorced after Kelsey died. He also told jurors he saw Smith abuse Kelsey three times. Porter is serving 30 years in prison. He once was charged with sexually assaulting and murdering Kelsey but pleaded guilty instead to enabling child abuse under a deal with prosecutors. Other defense witnesses have described how Porter threatened suicide two days after Kelsey died. Smith's attorneys contend he was faking. Porter at first had a gun and then there was a concern he had overdosed on Tylenol in the bedroom, witnesses said. Tylenol pills were later found hidden underneath a bed and a nightstand, according to testimony. Jurors have been told Kelsey suffered repeated injuries, including broken bones and bruises, in the months before her death. She was taken from her mother for awhile and later split time between her mother and paternal grandmother. She later spent about six weeks at her maternal grandmother's house before being returned to her mother in mid-June 2005. Defense attorneys wanted to call as a witness Craig Key, the former Lincoln County associate district judge who ordered Kelsey returned to her mother. The trial judge, Paul Vassar, ruled Key could not testify.
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