OKLAHOMA CITY (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — She was 19-years-old when her boyfriend abused her and her children, ultimately breaking the ribs and femur of their 3-month-old daughter. He pled guilty to the abuse and was released on probation — she was sentenced to 30 years for failing to “protect” her child.
Now after serving 15 years of that sentence Tondalao Hall has been released from an Oklahoma prison.
Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections say Governor Kevin Stitt signed the commutation sentence of Hall and she was released from a women’s prison in McLoud on Friday morning.
After she was set free the ACLU of Oklahoma released a statement from Hall that said, in part, “First and foremost, I want to thank God for making a way and for keeping me safe and sane during this season of my life. Secondly, for all the people God has placed in my life, my children and my family for sticking by me. Time and space cannot accommodate the list of people who have loved, helped, and supported me through all of this.”
The now 35-year-old mother’s release comes about one month after the state Pardon and Parole Board voted unanimously to recommend that Stitt commute her sentence to time served, which ironically is the sentence her then-boyfriend, Robert Braxton Jr., received.
Braxton was released from jail the same day he pled guilty, with a sentence of two years time served plus eight years probation.
Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott said he determined Hall’s sentence in part because he thought she should have testified more forcefully against Braxton. “I think, in my opinion, that she lied on some issues under oath,” Elliot said. “That’s just my opinion, which I have the right to have, in light of I’m her sentencing judge.”
Hall had always maintained that she was fearful about her life and the safety of her children while she was in a relationship with Braxton and that that fear continued as she testified against him.
The disparity of the sentences outraged women’s rights groups and brought further attention to Oklahoma’s high rate of incarceration, particularly of women.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)