BRISTOW — Raye Dawn Smith was found guilty of enabling the abuse of her 2-year-old daughter and given a 27-year prison sentence, a jury decided today. After the verdict was announced, Smith lowered her head into her hands and sobbed, “I don’t understand. Help me.” Jurors at trial of Smith began deliberating at 2:45 p.m. today. They deliberated for less than three hours before reaching a verdict. Beforehand, defense attorneys and prosecutors delivered their closing arguments. Smith, 27, sobbed again today as prosecutors said she was responsible for the death of her daughter. “Tears do not absolve you of your accountability,” District Attorney Richard Smothermon told jurors in closing arguments. “The path of inaction caused Kelsey Shelton Smith-Briggs to be murdered. You can’t ignore that. ... This child was murdered. This child was murdered because her mother allowed it to happen.” Prosecutors asked jurors to convict Smith of either child abuse or enabling child abuse. Kelsey, 2, died Oct. 11, 2005, at their home near Meeker. Both the district attorney and defense attorneys say Kelsey’s stepfather, Michael Lee Porter, sexually assaulted and murdered Kelsey. Porter, 27, is serving 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to a lesser charge of enabling child abuse under a deal with prosecutors. He and Smith divorced after Kelsey’s death. Prosecutors said Smith abused Kelsey herself, which is child abuse, and knew Porter was abusing the girl, which is enabling child abuse. Jurors could only choose one. “She knew. She knew,” prosecutor Pattye Ö High said. “A mother doesn’t have the right to choose her man over her baby. A mother doesn’t have the right to do it. ... The law requires a mother to stand up for her child.” The district attorney said Smith was on notice her husband was hurting Kelsey, pointing to testimony that Kelsey in May 2005 said to her mother, “Daddy Mike hurt my head.” He also pointed to testimony that Smith had called her mother in the weeks before Kelsey’s death with concerns after the stepfather taped Kelsey’s eyes shut while playing. Smith’s mother testified earlier, “We was starting to watch him.” Jurors in the trial heard from 22 prosecution witnesses, 10 defense witnesses and two prosecution rebuttal witnesses. Smith did not testify. The prosecution witnesses included Porter, who denied hurting Kelsey and blamed his ex-wife for the death. Porter said he saw Smith abuse Kelsey three times. Jurors learned during the trial that Kelsey suffered a series of injuries in the last months of her life. She broke a collarbone in January 2005 and both legs in April 2005. She repeatedly was turning up with bruises on her face and body and bumps around her nose. On Jan. 14, 2005, her stepmother found bruises on her body and face and red prickly marks on her rear. Her defense attorney, Steve Huddleston, told jurors today there was no evidence Smith was responsible for the injuries. He also said she would never have let her then-husband hurt the girl. “Ladies and gentlemen, this case, from start to finish, is full of doubt,” the defense attorney said. “I still have a lot of questions. And, what do questions lead to? Questions lead to doubt.” Huddleston said Smith was only charged because of pressure from the family of Kelsey’s father, particularly Kelsey’s outspoken grandmother, Kathie Briggs. He said Briggs bizarrely even met with Porter to try to get evidence against Smith. He showed jurors a photo of the mother playing with a smiling Kelsey and another of Kelsey sleeping on the mother’s stomach. He asked jurors if Smith looked in the photos like a woman who would allow her child to be injured. The defense attorney said, “She has been through enough. ... It is time to stop it. It is time to draw the line in the sand and say, ‘It stops here.’ ... I need you to stand up for her. ... Stand up. Stop it. Stop this stuff now.” The defense attorney said the evidence of who broke Kelsey’s legs was particularly unclear. He pointed to defense testimony that Kelsey sprained her right ankle at the zoo April 14, 2005, but walked on her left leg at a slumber party, the courthouse and the mall until going to her paternal grandmother. She was diagnosed with two broken legs April 25, 2005, when she couldn’t walk after returning from the grandmother, according to the testimony. The district attorney conceded he couldn’t say who broke the legs. But Smothermon told jurors they could focus on testimony about Kelsey’s bruised and injured behind in January 2005 and have enough evidence to convict Smith of child abuse. A former boss and a former co-worker testified Smith admitted spanking Kelsey over the diaper with a hairbrush. Smith told police she couldn’t explain the bruising and red prickly marks in January 2005.
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