BRISTOW — Jurors were told Friday that Kelsey Smith-Briggs once blurted out that her new stepfather, "Daddy Mike,” hurt her head but her mother laughed off the toddler's statement. Jurors also heard from a recently discovered witness who described seeing the mother spank Kelsey three times, then "just toss” the child into the back of a car late in the summer of 2004. "That was disturbing,” the witness said. The testimony came on the trial's fifth day as prosecutors moved closer to wrapping up their case against Raye Dawn Smith. Her daughter, Kelsey, 2, died on Oct. 11, 2005, at their home near Meeker. The child-abuse trial is set to resume at 9 a.m. Monday. Prosecutors allege the mother either abused Kelsey herself or allowed her then-husband, Michael Lee Porter, to abuse the child. Smith, 27, denies wrongdoing. The rambunctious girl died even though the Department of Human Services, a judge and a private child-welfare worker were overseeing her care. Jurors have been told Kelsey suffered broken bones and bruises to the face and body repeatedly in the last months of her life. Prosecutors have put on evidence Kelsey was at her mother's those times when she was hurt. Prosecutors also have sought to establish the mother covered up the abuse by blaming injuries on such accidents as a fall at the zoo or a pickup wreck. Kelsey made the complaint about her stepfather on May 18, 2005, during a time her mother only got supervised visits with the girl, at the Department of Human Services office in Lincoln County, according to the testimony Friday. Kelsey had been placed in DHS custody two weeks earlier after a doctor concluded her broken legs came from abuse. A judge later returned Kelsey to her mother. A DHS child-welfare aide told jurors Friday she monitored Kelsey's visit with the mother May 18, 2005, and overheard Kelsey say "out of the blue ... Daddy Mike hurt my head.” The aide, Annette Swinford, said the mother laughed and told Kelsey that "Daddy Mike” couldn't have hurt her head because "he's not been around you.” Smith and Porter wed on April 18, 2005, in Shawnee. They divorced after Kelsey's death. He once was charged with sexually abusing and murdering Kelsey but pleaded guilty to enabling child abuse. He still denies hurting Kelsey but said he saw his ex-wife abuse her three times. The new witness, Gene Snider, testified he saw a screaming Smith swat Kelsey three times with some force inside the entrance of the Rainbow convenience store in Meeker in the summer of 2004. He said Smith was holding Kelsey up by an arm as the girl tried to sit down to avoid being spanked. "She was whacking her,” Snider said. "The little girl was crying.” He said Smith then picked Kelsey up and slung the girl over the front seat of her car into the back. He said Smith then just drove off. He told jurors he thought the spanking was not that unusual but was disturbed Kelsey was hurled into the back seat. Snider first told his account to Porter's defense attorney, who was helping Snider on a probate matter. Prosecutors questioned Snider last month because he had been listed as a possible witness in Porter's case.
Child-welfare worker testifiesAlso Friday, a private child-welfare worker testified Smith was aggravated on the day of her daughter's death. Jean Bonner, a worker with the Eastern Oklahoma Youth Services, said Smith became upset after learning Kelsey's father would be returning soon from military duty. Bonner visited the mother from noon to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 11, 2005. The girl died later that afternoon. It was one of several "home visits” Bonner and DHS workers made after Kelsey was returned to her mother in mid-June 2005. They often found bruises to the child and once the skin near the girl's eye had been rubbed raw. The mother said Kelsey had rubbed her own eye too hard after getting adult shampoo in it, according to testimony. The workers had doubts about that explanation. Bonner testified she had concerns about some of the problems but never enough to call police. Asked by a prosecutor if she might have missed something during these visits, given that Kelsey died, Bonner said, "I don't know.” Under defense questioning, Bonner said as she was leaving Oct. 11, 2005, Kelsey was laughing and giggling with Smith on the front porch of the home. She said Kelsey and her mother were looking at a wild turtle. She said Kelsey waved to her. Smith wept briefly during Bonner's testimony. Jurors also heard Friday that Kelsey was suffering from malnourishment and possible seizures in the weeks before her death.
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