.
September 11th, 2007 at 7:27

Raye Dawn Smith Sentenced

Raye Dawn Smith, 27, was yesterday formally sentenced to 27 years in prison following her conviction by a Creek County jury on charges of enabling child abuse.

Rather than ask for mercy, Smith used her court appearance to speak to her former mother-in-law.

At sentencing Smith looked at her former mother-in-law Kathie Briggs and said, “Kathie, I forgive you.“. She then sat down.

Smith had told the judge in August, “I have always felt this was a conspiracy against me. I also believe that there are people guilty of things running free. Kathie Briggs knows I didn’t hurt Kelsey, and she knows I didn’t sit back and let it happen.”

After the brief sentencing hearing concluded, Kathie Briggs and others spoke to the news media.

Kathie Briggs said, “She’s demented. I did have to chuckle just a bit. She still blames the people that tried to save Kelsey. I was terribly shocked. She finally had a chance, one last chance, to stand up and say, ‘I’m sorry, Kelsey,’ and instead she addressed me.”
 

Kelsey’s father, Lance Briggs said, “She doesn't get it. No remorse.“. Briggs further called Smith’s statement “mind boggling”.

Michele Reeves, one of the jurors, said, “She should have protected that baby with everything that she had. There was no evidence showing she ever tried to protect her. It hurts to think that moms would do that. Don’t know what her reason was for it but the evidence showed after being told numerous times that the child was being abused she just looked the other way.”

Smith’s new attorney, Stephen Jones of Enid, who defended Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, said, “An injustice has been committed here. The evidence that would clear Raye Dawn was not heard by the jury.”

Raye Dawn Smith must serve at least 85 percent of her sentence before becoming eligible for parole, that is almost 23 years.

Jurors in July found Smith guilty of allowing her then-second husband Michael Lee Porter to abuse two-year-old Kelsey Briggs. Porter was initially charged with sexually abusing and murdering Kelsey, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of enabling child abuse in a plea deal with prosecutors. Porter received a 30 year prison sentence in exchange for his guilty plea.

Smith and Porter married in April 2005. Kelsey Briggs died on October 11, 2005. Her death was ruled the result of child abuse. It was determined that she had been abused for months, suffering broken bones, bruises, a sexual assault and other injuries. At the time of her death Kelsey Briggs’ father, Lance Briggs, was on his way home following military service in Iraq.

 
Mother Of Kelsey Briggs Charged 
Thursday February 23, 2006 12:52pm 
Posted By: Kevin King

Oklahoma City - The mother of a two-year-old Lincoln County girl who died last year after suffering from alleged child abuse has now been charged in the case. 

Today, Raye Dawn Smith was charged with enabling child abuse and child neglect in connection with the October 2005 death of Kelsey Smith-Briggs. The young child died October 11th after authorities say her new stepfather, Michael Porter, allegedly beat her to death. 

Porter was arrested last year and charged with first-degree murder in the case. 

In a NewsChannel 8 investigation, we spoke with the grandparents of Kelsey, who say she went from being outgoing and bubbly to withdrawn. Royce and Kathie Briggs told NewsChannel 8's Cindy Morrison their nightmare began when the child came to spend the weekend about this same time last year. 

"She had 29 bruisers from her face to her arms, down her legs, all on her back," Kathie Briggs says. "And, they were of various colors, so they didn't happen all at once. And, the broken collarbone." 

Kelsey had been living with Raye Dawn Smith and Porter, who was her boyfriend at the time. But, after the broken collarbone and bruises, Kelsey began living with her grandparents. 

Raye Dawn Smith was ordered to take parenting classes and visitation was gradually phased in. About the time Michael Porter became Kelsey's stepfather, the court allowed the two-year-old to return home. 

Then came another so-called accident which one doctor confirmed was abuse. 

"These are not accidents. These are not toddler fractures. These are not stress fractures. These are spiral fractures. Someone has yanked on her legs and broken them." 

But, after listening to hours of testimony, the judge in the case gave Kelsey back to her mother in July with the stipulation case workers visit every week. 

We've learned Raye Dawn Smith will be arraigned on these new charges Friday morning in Lincoln County. 

Grand Jury Hears Testimony In Kelsey Briggs Case 
Thursday February 23, 2006 8:16am 

Oklahoma City (AP) - A doctor who treated a 2-year-old girl who was later beaten to death has testified before a grand jury that's helping collect evidence in the case.

Doctor Kelli Koons of Shawnee appeared before the grand jury as it takes testimony about the death of Kelsey Smith-Briggs of Meeker. The proceedings are held behind closed doors and testimony is not open to the public.

Koons has drawn criticism because she's the sister of the attorney hired by the girl's mother in an effort to regain custody. Kelsey died in October, four months after being returned to her mother.

The girl's stepfather -- Michael Porter -- is charged with first-degree murder in her death and her mother is still under investigation.

The grand jury is taking testimony to help prosecutors gather evidence in the case. 

8 On Your Side: Justice For Kelsey 
Monday February 20, 2006 5:01am 
Reporter: Cindy Morrison   Posted By: Kevin King 

Tulsa - More than 13-thousand Oklahoma kids were abused last year. Fifty-one of them died. That's ten to twenty more children than previous years. 8 On Your Side investigator Cindy Morrison is tackling the emotional issue head-on by looking closer at one of those murders last year, speaking with one family from Meeker who is grieving the toddler they feel the system failed. 

Kelsey Briggs won Miss Personality in a pageant. But last year, the toddler made a dramatic change -- from outgoing and bubbly to broken and withdrawn. We wanted to know what happened to the little girl who even had child welfare workers and a judge looking out for her. 

Two-year-old Kelsey wasn't the least bit shy. From backyard barbecues to meeting the Easter Bunny, she was full of life. But, Kelsey didn't live to see another Easter. She died October 11th after her new stepfather allegedly beat her to death. 

"There were people who could have helped Kelsey who failed her, without a doubt," says Kelsey's grandfather, Royce Briggs. 

The new year has not brought much peace to Kelsey's grandparents, Royce and Kathie Briggs. They say the nightmare began when Kelsey came to spend the weekend about this same time last year. 

"She had 29 bruises from her face to her arms, down her legs, all on her back," says Kathie. "And, they were of various colors, so they didn't happen all at once. And the broken collar bone." 

Their son was in the military and divorced from Kelsey's mother. So, Kathie and Royce got an emergency court order for custody. Kelsey had been living with her mother, Raye Dawn Smith, and Michael Porter, Raye Dawn's boyfriend at the time. But, after the broken collar bone and bruises, Kelsey began living with her grandparents. 
Sorting out what happened from there is frustrating. We went looking for answers, but DHS would only give us a summary of their actions. Court records have been sealed. But, by digging into this story for three months now, we have learned case workers thought Kelsey's mother either perpetrated the abuse or failed to protect her. 

Raye Dawn Smith was ordered to take parenting classes and visitation was gradually phased in. About the time Michael Porter became Kelsey's stepfather, the court allowed the two-year-old to go home. 

Then came another so-called accident which one doctor confirmed was abuse. 

"These are not accidents. These are not toddler fractures. These are not stress fractures. These are spiral fractures. Someone has yanked on her legs and broken them." 

But, after listening to hours of testimony, the judge in the case gave Kelsey back to her mother in July with the stipulation case workers visit every week. 

Kathie and Royce saw Kelsey one last time in August. 

"The last time that I saw her, I thought just the way that she looked, the way that she acted and all the marks on her, I had told some friends of mine she looked like she was dying. From the point of where she was when we had her to what we saw on August 27th was not the same child. And we tried to tell people that." 

Royce and Kathie e-mailed everyone from DHS to legislators and even started a website. Nothing worked. Just two hours after a visit from a case worker in October, Kelsey was apparently hit or kicked so hard in the stomach that she died. Her 25 year stepfather, Michael Porter, now faces a charge of first-degree murder. 

Kelsey's mother is still under investigation and a gag order. Kathie and Royce believe the system is as much to blame. 

"I"m angry at a lot of people," says Royce. "This shouldn't have happened. My son shouldn't have to bury his only child while he's gone serving the country. They should have protected her." 

Can justice for Kelsey really happen? Monday night at 10, Cindy asks key people involved tough questions. It's an ongoing campaign for 8 On Your side. How can we keep our kids safe? Change the laws? Change the system? We're going to find out. And, hopefully get justice for Kelsey, so maybe this won't happen again.   

  8 On Your Side: Justice For Kelsey: Part Two 

Monday February 20, 2006 11:33pm 
Reporter: Cindy Morrison   Posted By: Kevin King

Tulsa - Two-year-old Kelsey Smith-Briggs is just one of 51 Oklahoma children who died from abuse last year. Case workers and the court were all supposed to protect her. 8 On Your Side investigator Cindy Morrison has spent the past three months trying to find out how something like this could happen so that it may not happen again. 

There were ten reports of abuse, but the system still returned Kelsey to the home where she eventually died. Someone needs to answer why the very people and system who should have protected her, couldn't or didn't. 

Kelsey was quite a ham. But, last year, her laughter stopped. That's when she suffered bruises, a broken collar bone and two broken legs. In October, just two hours after a visit from her case worker, Kelsey was killed. Her stepfather, Michael Porter is charged with her murder. 

Kelsey's mother Raye Dawn Smith is still under investigation. We demanded answers and got our hands on a report by an oversight committee now investigating DHS, the Lincoln County DA and the Court. In nine months of documented abuse, Kelsey was taken away, her mother ordered to take parenting classes and when the court finally sent Kelsey back home, case workers visited her almost every week. 

DHS tells us, this not a case that slipped through the cracks. 

"In our analysis, knowing what the law is, there's not anything that could have been done," says George Johnson. 

But after three months of investigation, we're not so sure. Even though we've jumped through hoops to legally get the records, DHS will only give us summary of their actions. Court records have been sealed. 

"There's no good reason for confidentiality in this case," says Attorney John Foley. "The child is dead. There's nothing to protect." 

Foley is an expert in juvenile law. He agrees we'll never really know what happened or how to prevent it without all the facts. 

"We're not helping anyone by not sharing those transcripts." 

Judge Craig Key spoke out only on 8. He's taken heat for returning Kelsey to her home. But, he says, quote: "I welcome the public scrutiny and hope the legislature will open all records so the scrutiny is on the facts I had before me." 

In fact, State Representative Kris Steele just drafted legislation with Kelsey in mind. 

"If we did our best, our best wasn't good enough," Steele says. 

Open records in cases like this is just one of the topics he's tackling. The Child Protection Reform Act of 2006 would be called the Kelsey Briggs Law if passed. But we're not leaving anything to chance. We have challenged DHS and the courts to turn over their information. It looks like we may even end up going court over it. That's how important it is to get justice for Kelsey, a little two-year-old girl who the system couldn't save. 

We investigated and found California has probably the toughest child abuse laws. But, experts agree laws won't make a difference as long as case workers are overworked, under trained and not better supervised. DHS is asking for 112 additional case workers to help with their load. 

We will let you know about the reports if and when they are made public. Also, late last week, it was announced a grand jury will now investigate this case to find out what happened and why Kelsey is dead. 

If you want to show your support for this bill, drop us a letter or email and we will deliver it to the State Capitol for you. 

Cindy Morrison
KTUL-TV
PO Box 8
Tulsa, OK 74101
8onyourside@ktul.com 

Do you need help learning to control your anger when dealing with a child? There is help. You can call 211 (just like dialing 911) to find out all the options available to you in Tulsa. You can also visit http://www.okparent.org.

Please visit Kelsey's Purpose by clicking below:  







For information about how to report child abuse, please click the link below and you will be taken to a page that has an alphabetical, state by state listing of how to report child abuse for which state you are looking for and for some other countries.



Visit my child abuse quilt to see other places about preventing child abuse.

This page will open up in a new window so you won't lose your place while
visiting the Angels on my site.


 
Call this number to report child abuse ANY WHERE in the United States!

1-800-4-A-Child  1-800-422-4453





Child Abuse Intro
Child Abuse Links 1
It Is A Human Life

7 Steps To Prevention
Child Abuse Links 2
Child Abuse Poetry
Child Abuse Songs
Report Abuse
Child Abuse Links 3
Child Abuse Quilt


<>..