Oklahoma Child Abuse Conviction Upheld in Kelsey Briggs Case

The Oklahoma criminal defense attorney for Raye Dawn Smith appealed her conviction at an evidentiary hearing last September, but last week,

Oklahoma Child Abuse Case

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals rejected Smith's appeal, upholding her conviction of enabling child abuse in the case of Kelsey Briggs.  Two-year-old Kelsey died as a result of severe child abuse in 2005.  Her case drew local and national attention because she was being monitored by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services at the time of her death. 

State officials had numerous documented evidence of her abuse prior to her death.  Kelsey's case brought about a public outcry for DHS reform. Smith was sentenced to 27 years in prison for enabling child abuse in Oklahoma.  In the case, Smith and Kelsey's stepfather Michael Lee Porter each blamed the other for the abuse that ended Kelsey's life. 

Neither was found guilty of the homicide, but both were convicted of enabling child abuse.  Porter was charged with Kelsey's murder but pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of enabling abuse.  He is serving a 30-year sentence. The Oklahoma domestic violence lawyer for Raye Dawn Smith says he is preparing to appeal her case in federal court.  Smith and her attorney argue that juror misconduct led to her wrongful conviction.  

Defense Strategies for Child Abuse

Smith's defense attorney provided witness statements alleging that a juror discussed the case with them and admitted to watching media reports about the case and visiting a website dedicated to the memory of the young victim.  Smith and her criminal lawyer say that this juror's defiance of court orders to avoid media coverage of the case and her viewing of such information biased her opinion and tainted the verdict of the case. Anyone accused of a crime in Oklahoma is entitled to a fair and impartial trial. 

If this impartiality jeopardized by a juror's failure to comply with the mandates of the course, the verdict in the case may not be fair.  The right to appeal an unjust conviction is granted by the Constitution of the United States.

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