Clemency Hearing Set For Woman Serving 30 Years For Child Abuse
Governor Kevin Stitt could have the final say in shortening the prison sentence of a woman accused of neglecting to report child abuse.
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.
Wednesday, Hall goes before the Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board where they will decide whether or not to send a recommendation to the governor’s office.
Prosecutors said Hall lied to investigators about the abuse, and in a letter to Judge Ray Elliott in 2009, she said she takes full responsibility for that.
“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.”
In July, the board advanced Hall’s application to the video conference phase.
“It’s time. Tondalo has served enough time,” Candace Liger said. She formed Project Blackbird to advocate for Hall's release.
“Oklahoma has unfairly criminalized survivors of violence, criminalized women,” she said.
Hall has served 15 years, exhausting all of her post-conviction release requests with the county.
Liger said this is now Hall’s third clemency request, however, this one is different.
“Four out of the five pardon and parole board members are new and hadn’t heard her case at the board before,” Liger said. “Also, she’s going into this hearing with the support of District Attorney David Prater.”
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 have been “grossly exaggerated, hyped, misstated and lied about” by those advocating for Hall’s release.
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 percent of her sentence, which isn’t for another nine years.
“If there’s anything I could say to the Pardon and Parole Board, it is take it very personal,” Liger said. “Take it as if it was your mother, your sister, your daughter.”
If the board recommends Hall's sentence be commuted, there is no timeline as to when the governor will have to make his final decision.
“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 News 9 in July.