New Book Follows Death Of Abused Oklahoma Child

Saturday, August 28th 2010, 8:54 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A new book follows the tragic story of a two-year-old Oklahoma girl who suffered abuse most of her life.

This week, the little girl's mother goes back to court, asking for a new trial. 

Home video shows Kelsey Briggs being a typical toddler. But the images hide the truth of her short, violent life. Kelsey died in 2005. She was two-and-a-half-years-old.

"The cause of death was ruled blunt force trauma to the stomach. So someone either punched or kicked her to death at not even quite three-years-old," said Cherokee Ballard, author.

Ballard and Britten Follett were journalists in Oklahoma City covering the tragic story. They've co-authored a book, trying to get to the bottom of the mystery. The book is called, "Who Killed Kelsey?"

"I think that's a tough question... many people," Ballard said.

"You hear one piece of evidence and you think, 'oh, well the mother did it.' Then you hear another piece of evidence and think, 'oh, the stepfather must have done it,'" said Britten Follett, author.

Kelsey lived at home in Meeker with her mother, Raye Dawn Smith, and stepfather, Michael Porter. Both are serving time in prison for enabling child abuse, but no one has been convicted of killing Kelsey.

"It's just wrong and shameful that she's gone," said Ballard.

This week, Kelsey's mother is asking for a new trial. Her attorneys are accusing one juror in her child abuse trial of reading information online during the course of the trial. Ballard and Follett say the juror denies the charge.

The authors also say their book details 10 months of documented child abuse against Kelsey -- a broken collarbone, bruises and, at one point, both legs broken at the same time. They even learned that 12 DHS caseworkers were assigned to Kelsey. 

They say they wrote the book for one simple reason.

"Accountability," said Follett.

As for the question everyone wants answered, who killed Kelsey, the authors say it goes beyond the mother and stepfather and falls on the system.

"The child was in state custody at the time of her death and, to a certain extent, the state of Oklahoma is responsible for failing to protect Kelsey," said Follett.

"Who Killed Kelsey?" can purchased in Tulsa at Steve's Sundry Books & Magazines at 2612 South Harvard Avenue or online.