Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Evidence of a violent past

From the archives of The Shawnee-News Star:

November 23, 1997
Section: News
Three to face charges in beating
The three young men who beat a 20-year-old male at a party earlier this month will face charges of aggravated assault, said Pottawatomie County sheriff's deputy Mark Young.

Joseph Medley, 20, Cass Merrill, 21, Richard Ellis, 21, and Paul Smith were at a party in a field on Munson Road between 45th Street and MacArthur Nov. 1 when the victim drove up, Young said.
The victim, Lance Briggs, also known as Lance Robinson, 20, said he was hit from behind when he got out of his pickup truck at the party.

According to witnesses, Briggs was knocked to his knees by Medley, who then struck him several more times.
The other men allegedly joined in the beating.
Two witnesses reportedly told the sheriff's deputy Merrill pushed Briggs into a nearby fire.
"Briggs suffered major burns on his left arm and had severe head and facial injuries," Young said.
The victim was treated and released that night at Shawnee Regional Hospital.
The hostility between the two men apparently began more than a year ago, Young said.
The deputy said Medley said he was hit on the head with a beer bottle, allegedly by Briggs, last year.
Briggs told the deputy someone else had struck Medley with the bottle.
Copyright 1997 The Shawnee News-Star

July 15, 1998
Shots damage house, cars near Meeker
A spray of bullets fired at an occupied Meeker area house damaged a sliding glass door and two cars early Saturday.

Several adult and two juvenile occupants of the house, three miles west of Meeker on U.S. 62, reported no injuries at the scene, according to Lincoln County Sheriff's Office Undersheriff Chester Duncan.
Lance Briggs, a resident at the home, had been assaulted and thrown into a fire during an altercation a few months ago in Shawnee, Duncan said.
The undersheriff said his office is investigating whether or not there is a connection between the earlier altercation and Saturday's drive-by shooting.
Deputies at the scene discovered that bullets or fragments of a bullet shattered the sliding glass door on the home and two bullets struck each of the two vehicles parked in front of the house.
"At least five rounds were fired," Duncan said. "We have some suspects, but (the residents) didn't get a vehicle description."
The undersheriff said the shooters fired the rounds at the home from the highway.
Several families were inside the house, including at least two small children.
No one was outside the home, Duncan said.
Deputies Dale McNelly and Clarence Gibson responded to the scene from the area of U.S. 62 and U.S. 177 -- three miles from the shooting scene.
Deputy Mike Bennett arrived at the scene later.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Evidentiary hearing set in Kelsey Smith-Briggs case |

Finally! A fact-based article from The Oklahoman.

Evidentiary hearing set in Kelsey Smith-Briggs case
Judge plans to hear testimony about alleged juror misconduct during mother's 2007 trial.

BY NOLAN CLAY Oklahoman Published: August 1, 2010

NEWKIRK — The mother of Kelsey Smith-Briggs will be back in court Sept. 1 for a fact-finding hearing on the "strong possibility" of juror misconduct during her 2007 trial.

Kay County District Judge D.W. Boyd is holding the hearing to gather evidence for the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

The dead girl's mother, Raye Dawn Smith, is serving 27 years in prison for enabling child abuse. Smith, 30, is asking the appeals court for a new trial. A decision could come late this year.

The appeals court July 2 ordered the evidentiary hearing. The appeals court found witness statements filed in her appeal "contain sufficient information to show at least a strong possibility that a juror received information outside of the courtroom."

At issue is whether a female juror during the trial watched television coverage of the case and checked an Internet site devoted to Kelsey. A former co-worker claims the juror admitted to doing both.

The former co-worker also claims the juror during the trial "told me... Smith should fry... looked like a junkie, was trash and no good."

Jurors are supposed to avoid the news during a trial, not form any opinions until all the evidence is presented and not do any research outside the courtroom.

Kelsey, 2, is the Meeker girl whose death from abuse in 2005 became highly publicized.

Many Oklahomans were angered because she died even though DHS workers, a private child-welfare worker and a state judge were overseeing her care because of her repeated injuries.

The death prompted reform legislation and a lawsuit by the girl's father. The state last year paid $525,000 to settle the lawsuit.

The juror, Brandi Marie Oldham, said in an affidavit in 2007 that the jury deliberations and verdict "were based solely on the evidence we received in the courtroom during the course of the trial." Oldham on Friday declined to comment to The Oklahoman about the case.

"Sir, you need to not contact me," she said to a reporter when reached by phone at her work in Jenks.

The former co-worker, though, claims she called him several times daily during the trial with an update on what was going on.

In a 2008 affidavit, Ronald Todd Bowman, of Sapulpa, wrote the juror "admitted to me daily that she watched the television news coverage of the trial... and made statements to me that the news didn't know what she knew about the case."

Bowman also stated the juror "advised me... during the trial she and the other jurors looked at the Kelsey website to see what was on it and to see what information was being added."

The website, Kelsey's Purpose, was created after the girl's death and at times had information critical of Raye Dawn Smith.

Bowman wrote he and the juror then worked in Sapulpa at a home health care agency. He wrote he had hired her and was training her to take over his position. In a separate affidavit, Bowman's roommate, Sean Clack, wrote in 2008 that he overhead the daily conversations.

"Ms. Oldham admitted to Mr. Bowman that she often went on the Internet and conducted research about Ms. Smith's case during the trial. She would check and see what was being reported about the case online," Clack stated. "Ms. Oldham also admitted to my roommate... that she had reviewed the Kelsey Briggs' website during the trial. Ms. Oldham told Mr. Bowman numerous times she was bored with the whole thing."

Men may testify

The mother's attorney, Stephen Jones of Enid, said the two men probably will testify at the hearing.

"I think she did that," Jones said of the misconduct claims. "There would be no reason these two guys would misrepresent it."

The prosecutor, Lincoln County District Attorney Richard Smothermon, said Friday he expects the appeals court will uphold the conviction.

Asked about Bowman's statement, he said, "I think the evidence will show that not to be true."

"Based upon the interviews that I have done since the trial with the jurors, I don't believe there has been any misconduct," the prosecutor said.

Kelsey died on Oct. 11, 2005, at her home near Meeker. The death was ruled a homicide but no one was convicted of murder in her case.

Kelsey's stepfather, Michael Lee Porter, 30, was charged with first-degree murder and child sexual abuse but pleaded guilty to enabling child abuse. He is serving a 30-year prison sentence. He blamed the girl's mother for her death.

The mother was never charged with murder. Jurors on July 18, 2007, found her guilty of enabling child abuse and compromised on her punishment. Some wanted more time and some wanted less, a juror said afterward.

Smith blames Porter for Kelsey's death.

During 2005, Kelsey suffered repeated injuries, including two broken legs and a broken collarbone, and was taken from her mother for a time. Her death came four months after the state judge returned Kelsey to her mother, despite accusations the mother was the abuser.

The evidentiary hearing was assigned to a Kay County judge because the trial judge is retiring.

Following is the letter from the juror's former boss along with witness affidavits. There have been five jurors that have come forward since Raye's trial to state that something went wrong in the trial. Hopefully justice will finally be served with these jurors' voices being heard. Raye deserves a fair trial with an impartial jury that is sequestered and not subjected to the antics of biased members of the press and the Briggs family. Justice will be served with the murder and sexual assault charges heard in a court of law against the man home alone with Kelsey at the time of her rape and murder.

The Oklahoman article can be found at the following link. Of course the bullies have already left comments in an effort to sway public opinion.

Evidentiary hearing set in Kelsey Smith-Briggs case |