This is an archived article from May 18, 2011.
KINGFISHER, Okla. -- It was a quiet January morning in Kingfisher, Oklahoma in 2010 when police detectives and county deputies raided a home on the outskirts of town.
Authorities arrested three people inside for dealing drugs: a mother and her two grown children.
Dee Starr, William Lamebull and Patricia Spottedcrow were all three first-time offenders, booked into the Kingfisher County Jail.
Each suspect was held on a $100,000 bond, pretty steep for a drug case especially considering the amount involved.
According to the affidavit filed in Kingfisher County the bust was over a handful of marijuana transactions with a confidential police informant.
Detectives had proof $31 dollars changed hands.
Patricia Spottedcrow had never been arrested before.
"I knew I was in trouble," Spottedcrow said. "I knew what I did. I didn't try to deny it or hide it, but I never thought it would be this."
Lamebull faced the least serious charge: possession of marijuana around children.
He pleaded guilty and got two years probation with no jail time.
Starr was facing more serious charges including two felony counts for dealing drugs and having drugs in front of children.
She received a sentence of 30 years probation with no jail time.
Spottedcrow pleaded guilty to the very same two charges as Starr at the very same courthouse in front of the very same judge.
She was sentenced to twelve years in prison sentence with no probation.
"I woke up that morning and my mom didn't even go to court with me because I knew I was coming home," Spottecrow said. "I didn't kiss my kids. I didn't say goodbye to anybody."
Spottedcrow was sentenced to twelve years behind bars for selling two baggies of marijuana worth $30.
The district judge, Susie Pritchett, is a four-term veteran of the bench with a reputation for being tough on crime, particularly tough on drugs.
Pritchett retired a month after she sentenced Spottedcrow to 12 years.
She is fighting cancer now and unable to do an on-camera interview because of her health.
Pritchett said off-camera, "The sentence fit the crime. Ms. Spottedcrow was a drug dealer."
Judge Pritchett points a pre-sentence investigation report which alleged "Ms. Spottedcrow showed no signs of remorse, nor did she seem to even care about what she was doing to her children."
Spottedcrow claims the report is false.
Her attorney Mark Clayborne had the opportunity to challenge the facts in court, but the record shows he did not.
Six months after Spottedcrow's sentencing Clayborne was convicted of perjury in an unrelated matter in Oklahoma County.
His jury recommended six years in prison for Claybourne.
Patricia Spottedcrow was sent to Eddie Warrior Correctional Center.
She has been in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections since her 2010 sentencing.
"I slept next to this girl here," Spottedcrow said. "She's in on manslaughter. She did three years. She was here for a year, and she's gone. I look around at all the people around me, all the things they did. People are here on trafficking two and three times, busted and busted again. (They have) three and four prison sentences, and they don't have near as much time as I do."
This year Oklahoma taxpayers will pay $40 a day for Patricia Spottedcrow's minimum security incarceration, that's $14,000 a year.
"Sentencing her to twelve years in prison is completely ridiculous. It's outlandish. It's barbaric," said Spottedcrow's defense attorney Josh Welch.
Welch recently took over the case pro bono.
"No one's going to argue someone convicted of child abuse or a violent crime should be incarcerated. Nobody's gonna dispute that. Taxpayers have to pay that money. It's just an obligation," Welch said. "But we're gonna go bankrupt with this mentality that anyone who comes before a judge on a drug offense or a first time offense needs to go to prison. We'll bankrupt the state. It is illogical and unfair."
However, not all criminal defendants in Kingfisher County face twelve years in prison for a first time drug offense.
NewsChannel 4 uncovered a number of other cases in the county where defendants with prior felony convictions were sentenced to probation or weekends in jail or no prison time.
In fact, one case before Judge Pritchett involving the wife of a county deputy who was busted with marijuana hidden in her underwear involved no prison time at all.
The defendant in that case was asked to apologize to the judge.
She never served a day in jail.
Pritchett would not confirm or deny that incident but said, "I treat drug users differently than I treat those who pushed drugs, especially when they sold in front of children."
"Patricia's sentence is completely an abuse of judicial authority," Welch said.
Patricia Spottedcrow's mother is raising her four children.
They don't have the money to visit her in prison.
Her youngest daughter Ja'zalynn doesn't recognize her mom anymore.
"It's just totally ridiculous," said Dee Starr. "I've worked all my life to take care of my kids."
Life has changed for the Spottedcrow family.
Their attorney plans to ask for a sentence modification later this year in front of the new judge in Kingfisher County.
If Spottedcrow's sentence is unchanged she won't be eligible for parole until 2014.
"It was a stupid mistake that cost me an awful lot," Spottedcrow said.
Two weeks ago she earned her G.E.D. in prison.