KELSEY SHELTON SMITH-BRIGGS BRUTALLY BEATEN BY HER MOTHER’S BOYFRIEND, MICHAEL LEE PORTER, FOR A YEAR BEFORE DYING – CCA0103 – UPDATED 09.18.2013
KELSEY SHELTON SMITH-BRIGGS BRUTALLY BEATEN BY HER MOTHER’S BOYFRIEND, MICHAEL LEE PORTER, FOR A YEAR BEFORE PASSING AWAY
Kelsey Shelton Smith-Briggs was almost 3 years old when she was ripped from this world. A beautiful, promising life ended in torture and pain, all inflicted by Kelsey’s mother’s, Raye Dawn Smith, boyfriend, Michael Lee Porter.
Kelsey’s parents were already divorced when the little girl was born. It is said that the marriage was broken by domestic violence, with Lance Briggs allegedly punching Smith in the stomach causing a miscarriage in 2000. Smith has said that Lance had given her several black eyes, bruised ribs and has pulled out her hair. She also alleges that Lance would go around the house breaking the things that were important to her.
She says that Lance also threw her Pomeraniam against a wall and busted her nose in front of friends. It was after this that Smith says she left Lance and went to live with her parents. No charges were ever laid in the alleged abuse.
Kelsey’s father, Lance, did not even know Kelsey was his daughter until she was three months old. It is easy to see the turmoil that Kelsey was born into. When Lance found out that Kelsey was his daughter, he and his family were consistently involved in Kelsey’s life and loved the baby girl from the very start. Lance actually had Kelsey’s name legally changed to include his last name.
In the year before Kelsey was murdered, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services was “closely observing” the little girl.
The first 2 years of Kelsey’s life were abuse free. She was a beautiful little girl who brought a smile to every face. In January 2005, the abuse began, right at the time when Michael Porter entered the little girl’s life. Kelsey’s injuries were frequent and severe. In that one year, Kelsey suffered with a broken collarbone, both legs broken at the same time, and bruises and abrasions all over her little face and body, amongst other injuries.
Workers at the daycare Kelsey attended began to see signs of abuse when Smith and Porter began dating. Around this time, Kathie Briggs was also grandparent visitation through the courts. When the workers noticed the bruises that were suddenly on Kelsey, some looking like finger marks, other bruises on her ears, each side began to point fingers at each other.
Kelsey was actually tested to see if she had a medical condition that caused her to bruise easily in an effort to explain why the baby girl’s body was so battered. Medical tests ruled out any medical condition. The tension between the two families was thick, and communication between the two was shaky at best.
On January 17, 2005, the Oklahoma DHS confirmed child abuse against Smith, after Kelsey was brought to the hospital with a broken collarbone, multiple bruises and abrasions to her lower back, buttocks and thighs.
Smith had attempted to explain the injuries away saying that Kelsey fell from her crib. Kelsey was placed into the care of her paternal grandmother, Kathie Briggs. Smith was granted supervised visitation, which led to unsupervised visitation. Smith fully cooperated with the DHS, completing every course and evaluation she needed to in order to regain custody of Kelsey. The proceedings that followed before placing Kelsey back in Smith’s care were lengthy and troubling.
Kathie told the judge that each time she had Kelsey, she would undress the little girl and take pictures for documentation, as well as having other witnesses examine Kelsey when she arrived and before she left.
It was about this time when Kelsey began to display some disturbing behaviour. She began self mutilating, counting her bruises and biting and scratching herself. She would pick at her fingernails and toenails to the point where she was missing one toenail entirely when she died.
Judge Craig Key described Kesley’s behaviour in the book he released regarding Kelsey’s case. “Although she was in protective custody, it was apparent that Kelsey wasn’t adjusting to being in the Briggs home. A red flag was raised for me, as a judge, when DHS told me Kelsey’s hair began falling out in clumps while in the care of Kathie Briggs. Kelsey’s hair was falling out to the point that she had a bald spot on the back of her head the size of a baseball. She began self-mutilating by biting her arms, and as clearly stated in Kelsey’s obituary submitted by the Briggs, she was apparently biting the Briggs family as well.
Kelsey’s behavior and hair loss during this time were all documented by DHS…Why Kelsey acted differently while in the custody of Kathie Briggs is unclear. Why Kelsey was timid, lethargic, and asleep during almost every DHS visit is also unclear. But what’s clear is the tug-of-war was starting to get to the child both mentally and physically.”
In April of 2005, Kelsey was again brought to the hospital, this time with two broken legs. Medical staff confirmed that both injuries were spiral fractures in different stages of healing and were caused by child abuse. Kelsey was taken into state care at that time. When Kelsey was asked if someone hurt her, she replied “Yes”. When she was asked who hurt her, she would not respond. She was then asked if she knew what ‘hurt’ meant. Tiny Kelsey nodded her head yes and pointed to her two broken legs wrapped entirely in casts.
Kelsey’s abuse was witnessed by Porter’s 7 year old daughter, who told investigators that her father would abuse Kelsey until the little girl threw up. She also stated that Porter would be nice to Kelsey when other people were around.
I wish the story ended here. I wish I could tell you that Kesley is healthy and well, but I can’t. For the first time in a long time, I can say that DHS workers, did everything they could to protect Kelsey, but were overruled by a judge, who ordered that Kelsey be returned to her mother, ignoring the recommendation of DHS to keep the little girl in state care. The judge stated that Kelsey’s abuser was “unknown” and there for she should be returned. In my opinion, this judge created the circumstances that led to Kelsey’s murder.
He played his part in failing Kelsey, and I hope that every day of his life he wakes up and remembers that his ruling, sent a beautiful, innocent, defenceless baby girl to her death at the hands of the man she called ‘Daddy Mike’.
On October 11, 2005, Smith left Kelsey with Porter while she went to pick his 7 year old daughter up from school. Kelsey was sleeping when Smith left the home, dressed only in a T-Shirt because according to Smith, they were “running out of pull ups”.
When Smith arrived home, she found Kelsey being loaded into an ambulance, wearing a pull up. When Smith began to question Porter as to why she was in a pull up, he told her that he didn’t want people thinking ‘things’ about him. Kelsey died on the way to the hospital. Her death was ruled a homicide from blunt force trauma to the abdomen, which indicated that someone punched or kicked the baby girl so hard in the stomach that it killed her. Kelsey was covered in bruises and had been repeatedly forcefully sexually assaulted.
Michael Lee Porter was charged with sexual assault and first degree murder. After Kelsey’s death, investigators discovered child pornography on his computer. In February of 2007, he pled guilty to enabling child abuse and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Raye Dawn Smith was charged with enabling child abuse. On July 18, 2007, she was convicted of the charges and sentenced to 27 years in prison.
Every day around the world children are dying as a direct result of child abuse. Sometimes we forget that each of these children are individual and unique, and each of them added their own little piece of themselves to this world. They are often only remembered for the abuse they suffered, and yes, that needs to never be forgotten if we hope to change the way our children are protected.
So after reading Kelsey’s tragic story, let’s switch gears a little. Let me introduce to you the Kelsey that shined her light into the lives of so many.
Kelsey Shelton Smith-Briggs stole the hearts of judges at a baby pageant and walked away with the proud title of Miss Personality. When her daddy, Lance, married her stepmother, Ashley, Kelsey attended the wedding with the big title of Mini-Bride.
Kelsey’s favorite movies were Brother Bear, Shrek and The Fox and the Hound. Although Kelsey could not say fox quite right yet, instead it came out sounding like the “F-Word”. You have to smile hearing that, we’ve all been there when one of our toddlers has no idea that their favorite word is profanity laced.
Kelsey was a fan of cabbage patch dolls, and would twirl her fingers in their hands to help her to go to sleep.
She was a very independent little girl, refusing help by saying “No, I do it.” Kelsey’s favorite foods were pizza and pickles. She was a very animated little girl that you just can’t help but love. When something didn’t go the way it was supposed to, she would hit her hand against her forehead and say “Oh man!”. Kelsey started her phone addiction a little earlier than most girls. She would have long conversations with her daddy, even if no one was on the other line. Kelsey loved to be read to, and Grandpa Briggs was always more than happy to oblige his baby girl.
Kelsey was just an average happy little girl who loved playing in water, eating, playing outside and going to the zoo. She was carefree and confident. It’s hard to acknowledge that this little girl, who is so like our own children, was beat mercilessly until she couldn’t fight to survive any longer.
Kelsey’s story is heart breaking. This little girl suffered through pain and abuse that most adults could not face. She was robbed of her life, and there will never be justice for that. There are a lot of people out there that are making a fight between mother and father more important than honoring Kelsey’s life. The scream in defense for one side or the other, but you know what they are not screaming for – KELSEY. When we carry on this fight after Kelsey’s death, when we continue to argue even after everything that can be said and done is said and done, we are only marring Kelsey’s memory with the details of her death. This is essentially carrying on Kelsey’s abuse into her death. What’s done is done – we need to now step back, and pay tribute to this incredible little girl. We need to make sure that when someone speaks Kelsey’s name, the see a smiling little girl full of vitality, not a battered body beaten by abuse. We need to honor Kelsey, and to remember the good she showered on everyone around when she was with us.
When you say the name Kelsey Shelton Smith-Briggs, remember this: