BRISTOW — Raye Dawn Smith wept again today as jurors saw autopsy photos and diagrams of the bruises, scrapes and other injuries to her dead daughter’s body. Testimony in her child-abuse trial began this morning. Smith wept during much of the testimony about the first autopsy of Kelsey Smith-Briggs. She looked down or put her face in her hands as photos were displayed on a large screen about 10 feet from her. The trial judge, Paul Vassar, at one point abruptly called a break as her sobbing grew louder. Kelsey, 2, died at her home near Meeker on Oct. 11, 2005. The state doctor who did the first autopsy testified Kelsey died from blunt force trauma to the abdomen. “It appeared to me that there was more than one impact,” said Dr. Inas Yacoub, who works for the state chief medical examiner. Jurors were shown photos of bruises on Kelsey’s abdomen, face, chest, thighs, legs and right hand, photos of abrasions on her back and a photo of a tissue tear inside her mouth. The doctor said those injuries were recent. The doctor testified Kelsey suffered genital injuries but she said she is uncertain if it came from a sexual attack or a low blow. She said Kelsey also had bruises to the back of her head. Jurors learned during defense questions about the autopsy that a private Indiana doctor had concluded Kelsey was injured from a sexual assault. The doctor made that finding after performing a second autopsy after Kelsey’s body was exhumed at the request of prosecutors. Smith first wept Monday during opening statements as the district attorney told jurors Kelsey was murdered. District Attorney Richard Smothermon told jurors on Monday that Kelsey “was literally beaten to death.” The prosecutor called Kelsey’s death the final chapter in a horrible tragedy and told jurors they will hear about Kelsey’s broken collarbone, broken legs, bruises and other injuries from abuse. “We know the abuse didn’t stop because she’s not here,” the district attorney said Monday. “That day should never have happened. ... (Smith) was either causing the abuse herself or she knew about it and did nothing to stop it.” He said jurors will have to determine what happened to Kelsey in the hours before her death when she was alone with her mother and then her stepfather. The prosecutor said the stepfather, Michael Lee Porter, will testify that “he witnessed on numerous occasions this defendant abusing Kelsey and he did nothing to stop it.” Porter, 27, is expected to testify this afternoon. Smith, 27, is not charged with murder. Instead, prosecutors want jurors to find her guilty either of child abuse or of enabling child abuse. If convicted, she faces up to life in prison. Porter, her former husband, was charged with murder and child sexual abuse but pleaded guilty only to enabling child abuse. He is serving 30 years in prison. Smith’s attorney, Steve Huddleston, told jurors Monday that Porter was responsible for Kelsey’s death. He said Smith now realizes she made a horrible mistake to marry him. They are now divorced. He said Smith did not abuse Kelsey and did not allow anyone else to abuse the girl. “She loved her daughter and her daughter was her life,” the defense attorney said. He told jurors Smith was wrongly blamed for earlier injuries to Kelsey because of the longstanding animosity between Smith’s family and Kelsey’s father’s family. He said Kelsey was in the middle of two families making accusations against each other while “Mr. Porter stood in the shadows.” Smith and Kelsey’s father , Lance Briggs, divorced before she was born. He was returning from military duty in Iraq when Kelsey died. Today, before the autopsy photos were shown, the district attorney spoke with Briggs in the courtroom about what was coming up. Briggs left. Briggs said later that prosecutors had promised to warn him when disturbing testimony was coming. Jurors were selected Monday. The 12 jurors consist of seven women and five men. Nine have children of their own.v They include an Oklahoma Highway Patrol secretary, a remodeling contractor, a retiree, a “stay-at-home mom,” a hospital worker, a chicken restaurant worker and a former counselor at the Tulsa Boys’ Home. They were dressed casually Monday. One man wore shorts and a “Coors Light” T-shirt. A woman wore a T-shirt that said, “Going to My Happy Place. Back Soon.” There were two alternates selected. Creek County sheriff’s deputies provided extra security for the high-profile case. Spectators had to pass through a metal detector from the jail to enter the courtroom. The trial was moved from Chandler because the judge feared publicity about the case would make it difficult to find impartial jurors there.
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Raye Dawn Smith, 27, sits on a bench outside the courtroom in Bristow's Municipal Building during the lunch recess of her trial's first day. At Smith's left is her mother's back. By JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN