Pardon And Parole Board Denies Release Of Meeker Mother In Prison For Enabling Child Abuse Tuesday

A Meeker mother's request for an early prison release was denied on Tuesday by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. Raye Dawn Smith, 45, is behind bars for enabling child abuse following the 2005 death of her two-year-old daughter Kelsey Smith Briggs.

Tuesday, June 4th 2024, 1:53 pm

By: News 9, Jennifer Pierce

The Pardon and Parole Board denied the commutation of a Meeker mother, Raye Dawn Smith, who asked the state to let her out of prison ten years early on Tuesday.

Three members voted against early release, two voted in favor, and one suggested reducing her sentence by two years.

Smith is more than halfway through her 27-year sentence for enabling child abuse.

RELATED: Meeker Mother Seeks Early Release After 17 Years In Prison For Enabling Child Abuse

Her 2-year-old daughter Kelsey Smith Briggs was killed in 2005 after being beaten to death, and her stepfather Michael Lee Porter was charged with murder and sexual assault.

Porter later became a state witness against Smith in exchange for a lesser charge and a 30-year prison sentence.

Ahead of today's hearing, Kelsey's father and grandfather went before the pardon and parole board to protest the early release.

The Lincoln County District Attorney Adam Panter also sent a letter to the board speaking out against Smith's early release.

Since the very beginning, Raye Dawn Smith has maintained her innocence

Smith claims she was punished for her then-husband, Michael Porter's crime, which she claimed to be unaware of until it was too late.

The jury found that she failed to protect her daughter from physical and sexual abuse, and she received nearly the same amount of prison time as Porter.

DHS was involved in an ongoing custody battle, but Smith says the investigation never identified an abuser.

She believes the custody dispute clouded judgments, allowing Kelsey's perpetrator to get away with it.

Supporters for Smith started with a prayer outside the Pardon and Parole Board meeting room. The group filled nearly every chair in the room. Smith's commutation attorney Morgan Hale and former state lawmaker Kris Steele were the first to speak to the board of five.

“Ms. Smith’s sentence is incredibly disproportionate to the man she was charged in connection with,” said Morgan Hale, Project Commutation attorney.  

Smith and her supporters believed Michael Porter killed Kelsey. However, Porter took a plea deal to testify for the state and was sentenced for enabling child abuse.

“Women convicted of this charge often serve longer sentences and are treated more harshly than the actual abuser,” said Kris Steele, TEEM Executive Director. “This is the situation of Raye Smith, her sentence is excessive.”

The speakers also pointed to Smith's educational accomplishments while serving time and her model behavior. Smith told the board despite her work behind bars, it does not change the loss of her daughter.

“And how much I miss her is impossible to express,” said Raye Dawn Smith, Kelsey’s mother. “Whether I’m home or in prison this is my reality for the rest of my life.”

The board had a lengthy discussion before voting. The acting board chair recommended commuting Smith's sentence to 25 years. The board's final vote ended in disappointment for Smith's supporters.

Kelsey’s family did not attend the hearing. However, her father Lance Briggs told News 9 he wanted to thank the pardon and parole board for denying commutation, Briggs said it was justice for Kelsey.

Michael Porter is serving a 30-year sentence but is incarcerated out of state. Smith's supporters told the board they had no idea where he was and believed he had already been released from prison.


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