OKC Woman In Prison For Child Abuse Is Closer To Receiving Reduced Sentence
OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma City woman serving a 30-year prison sentence for failing to prevent the abuse of her children, is one step closer to being considered for a reduced sentence from Governor Kevin Stitt.
Tondalo Hall was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2006 after her boyfriend, Robert Braxton Jr., pleaded guilty to abusing the children. Braxton Jr. walked free after serving just two years behind bars.
Hall admitted to the abuse, and in a letter to Judge Ray Elliott in 2009, she said she takes full responsibility.
“I have had time to sit back and understand that it’s better to tell the truth than to tell a lie,” wrote Hall. “Lying led me to prison. I do take full responsibility that I should have paid more attention to my children and when I did see something happen, I should have separated my children and myself from the abuser.”
Candace Liger formed “Project BlackBird” to advocated for Hall's release. She said District Attorney David Prater, who now supports a commutation review, is too focused on Hall’s misstatements in court. She said Braxton Jr. intimidated Hall in court and in transportation between hearings.
“When she got on the stand she was scared,” Liger said. “It’s rather unfortunate that they’re not able to make the correlation between, ‘hey, this woman actually is a survivor of violence and abuse and trauma, and her abuser is sitting right in front of her.’”
In a March, 2019 letter to the Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board, Prater wrote, “I join her counsel in this request (for a commutation hearing); although I disagree with and object to the characterization of proceedings that led to Ms. Hall’s incarceration and the unfair, dishonest and completely inaccurate allegations against the Prosecutor and Judge in Ms. Hall’s Case, made by those who advocate for Ms. Hall.”
Prater said Hall lacked candor during her time on the stand when she agreed to testify against the man who abused her children. He said facts were “grossly exaggerated, hyped, misstated and lied about” by advocated for Hall’s release. In his letter to the board, he even doubted if many of the advocates knew Hall.
Liger said the problem is more systemic in nature and while she does keep in regular contact with Hall, she can empathize with her.
“We don’t even actually have to have a conversation with Tony to understand the ways in which these systems intersect and render her vulnerable, especially as single black women, especially as black mothers, we get it,” Liger said.
Even with his frustration with advocates for Hall’s commutation, Prater wrote, “Ms. Hall is very likely not the same person who walked into prison so long ago. Her children are grown and desire to have a relationship with their mother.”
The Pardon and Parole Board is expected to hear from Hall via a video call in October. The board will then decide whether to recommend her for a commutation to Governor Stitt.
“The governor supports the appointments he made to the Pardon and Parole Board, who will soon be further reviewing and considering additional information from Stage II of the process,” a spokeswoman for the governor told News9.
Hall's sentence ends in 2034, when she will be 50 and her kids fully grown adults. If commutation is denied, she isn’t eligible for parole until she serves 85% of her sentence, which isn’t for another nine years.
“Tony is a special person, because Tony has never lost optimism and Tony trusts everybody,” Liger said. “Tony is just trying to get out. Tony is ready to be a mother. She’s ready to be with her children.”