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Stepdad testifies against ex-wife

By Nolan Clay Modified: July 11, 2007 at 11:06 am •  Published: July 11, 2007
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BRISTOW — The stepfather of Kelsey Smith-Briggs came from prison Tuesday to testify against his ex-wife, telling jurors in a choked voice that he saw the child abused three times and covered it up.

"I was protecting the wrong person,” said Michael Lee Porter, who wore orange jail clothes and remained handcuffed and in leg irons while testifying. "I was trying to protect my wife. It was a mistake, and I'm paying for that mistake and Kelsey's paying for it.”

His testimony came on the second day of the child-abuse trial for Raye Dawn Smith.

Kelsey, 2, died on Oct. 11, 2005, at her home near Meeker. Prosecutors have told jurors they must decide whether Smith, 27, abused her daughter or let Porter abuse the child. She denies wrongdoing.

Porter said he knows Smith is responsible for Kelsey's death. He described finding the child in bed not breathing after hearing a guttural noise after Smith left their house that afternoon.

"She was blue,” he said.

Stepdad renews denials
Porter, 27, once was charged with sexually assaulting and murdering Kelsey but pleaded guilty days before his trial in February to enabling child abuse. Under a deal with prosecutors, he is serving 30 years in prison.

He denied again Tuesday that he ever hurt Kelsey.

His appearance was unusual because prosecutors let him testify even though they say they don't believe his denials. District Attorney Richard Smothermon bluntly revealed in front of the jury that he still thinks Porter sexually assaulted and murdered the child.

Porter told jurors he saw Smith swat Kelsey excessively in January 2005, hit her in the stomach twice with a closed fist in July 2005 and jerk her from a car and throw her in a chair two days before her death.

He said he warned Smith after the abuse in July 2005 that they would split up if he ever saw that again. He testified that she replied, "All I have to do is blame it all on you.”

Defense attorney Steve Huddleston called the testimony ludicrous. The attorney said, for instance, that Porter never would have left Smith alone with his son and his daughter from other relationships if he had really seen such abuse.

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Michael Lee Porter, the stepfather of Kelsey Smith-Briggs, heads to the courtroom on Tuesday to testify in the trial of Raye Dawn Smith, who has been charged with child abuse. Porter is escorted by guards in this photo taken from a security video. Photo provided by City of Bristow

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