Wrongful Convictions -- Stealing Lives One Person at a Time

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Together, http://www.FreeKelseysMom.com and http://www.Raye-of-Hope.org are hoping to educate the public about wrongful convictions by holding a rally on June 21, 2008 in Harrah, Oklahoma at Heritage Park.

Putting an innocent person in jail is the legal equivalent of a plane crash.

The recent release of wrongfully convicted Cynthia Sommer has brought awareness to the imprisonment of the innocent. The trend of crime lab mistakes, judicial errors, and incorrect eyewitness accounts is spreading nationwide. These contribute to years being stripped away from those who are mistakenly confined in a system that promises "Justice for all." Together, http://www.FreeKelseysMom.com and http://www.Raye-of-Hope.org are hoping to educate the public about wrongful convictions by holding a rally on June 21, 2008 in Harrah, Oklahoma at Heritage Park. Oklahoma's own "Innocent Man" Dennis Fritz and Tabitha Pollock who was exonerated in an Illinois Supreme Court after six years in prison are among scheduled guest speakers. Ultimately, we want to educate the public of this very real epidemic of wrongful convictions.

To quote Sommer's website, "Putting an innocent person in jail is the legal equivalent of a plane crash." Unfortunately, these "plane crashes" are part of a trend that is being seen across the country. With high profile cases such as Sommer's making the nightly news, the public is now opening its eyes to the reality that wrongful imprisonment can happen to anyone. In Oklahoma, awareness of our "injustice" system has gone virtual with the websites http://www.FreeKelseysMom.com and http://www.TheTruthAboutKelsey.com. These sites are in support of a woman named Raye Dawn Smith. Free Kelsey's Mom members believe Smith has been wrongfully convicted by a one-sided media blitz that altered public opinion and led to an unfair trial. During the trial, Richard Smothermon, District Attorney for Lincoln County, Oklahoma, stated that he believed Smith's daughter, Kelsey Smith-Briggs, was sexually assaulted and murdered by Mike Porter, Smith's ex-husband and Kelsey's step-father. According to Smothermon, Smith "should have known" Porter abused Kelsey. (Oklahoma Case(s) CF-06-00033 & CF-07-00134)Smith now sits in an Oklahoma prison waiting for her appeal to the 27-year sentence she received for "should have known." Evidence in support of allegations of perjury, jury tainting, juror misconduct, timelines, the conspiratorial emails, and other documentation can be found on Smith's sites at http://www.TheTruthAboutKelsey.com.

Like Sommer's case, Smith's has gained local and now worldwide attention due to the YouTube videos and media blitz launched by Kelsey's paternal grandmother. Smith's site has members from as far away as Denmark, Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the UK. These members believe that it was the media and Smith's silence that convicted Smith before her case went to trial on July 9, 2007. Oklahoma City based news channels reported 910 times on this case from October, 2005 to April, 2007. During that same time period, the Daily Oklahoman published 59 articles and the Shawnee News-Star published 62. With the media, billboards, buttons, bumper stickers, and Smith's side of the story silenced and ignored, Free Kelsey's Mom members believe Smith did not receive a fair trial.

On Tuesday, May 20, 2008, Smith's family members gathered at the State Capital to deliver a letter from Smith to Oklahoma lawmakers. They also delivered evidence of Smith's alleged innocence, and two petitions; 664 signatures and sentiments have been gathered in support of a fair trial for Smith, and 505 signatures have been collected to release the records of Kelsey Smith-Briggs as Oklahoma's Title Ten calls for in the death of a child. Smith's family members were met by a local television crew that "scooped" the letter from a House of Representative's office after the family refused to turn over a copy of the letter. Before the family left the Capital, the letter was posted on the paternal family's website along with plenty of bashing of Smith.

Nationwide coverage is needed to bring attention to this the injustice that Raye Dawn Smith and her supporters allege. Read the evidence at http://www.TheTruthAboutKelsey.com and ask yourself - as a society, are we to stand by, quietly thinking "someone else" will bring awareness to wrongful convictions and report Raye Dawn's side of the story? Give Raye Dawn a voice. Tell her story so others will not suffer her fate. Visit http://www.TheTruthAboutKelsey.com and bring awareness to the truth and raise much needed funds for Smith's defense. (Oklahoma Appeals Case #: F-2007-1196)

Contact: Sherri Heath, (405) 279-2648, Cell: (405) 308-6238

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Sherri Heath


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