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Smith found guilty in abuse trial

By Nolan Clay Modified: July 18, 2007 at 6:23 pm •  Published: July 18, 2007
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.

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