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ACLU fights to free mother serving 30 years for failing to protect children from abuse

OKLAHOMA CITY - The ACLU of Oklahoma is working to free a mother of three from a 30-year prison sentence. Civil rights advocates are headed to court Tuesday to try to right what they call a wrong.

“What our suit seeks is essentially to free her. It's called a writ of habeas corpus, and what it would do is essentially say she's done," said Brady Henderson, legal director with ACLU. "This sentence should have never have been anywhere near this long.”

It was back in 2004. Tondalo Hall was in an abusive relationship with a boyfriend, Robert Braxton Jr. He was beating her and then began abusing her children.

“On that particular night, she had to take her kids to the hospital because something was wrong and, when she did, what she found out was that the same man that was abusing her was abusing those kids,” Henderson said.

That trip to the hospital eventually led to criminal charges for both Braxton and Hall. He plead guilty to child abuse. She entered a blind plea on charges of failing to protect her children.

“That plea deal involved him getting credit for the time he served in jail, which was almost two years, and so essentially being released straight to probation,” Henderson said.

After just two years in prison, Braxton was a free man. Hall still sits behind bars.

“Supposedly failing to stop the abuse of somebody, who we gave eight years of probation to; she gets 30 years of incarceration,” Henderson said.

The assistant district attorney at the time, now the current district attorney for district two, stands by her prosecution.

Angela Marsee told us by phone Monday she can't comment without having access to the case anymore. However, she did say the facts and circumstances are what resulted in Hall’s sentence.

Nevertheless, Henderson said, in the end, it's Hall and her children who continue to suffer.

"First, they were the victims of Robert Braxton abuse, and then they were the victims of the state’s abuse,” Henderson said.

ACLU's first hearing is Tuesday in Pottawatomie County.