McLOUD — In some states, Sheila Devereux might not be in prison for the rest of her life. But in Oklahoma, three felony convictions and a jury trial are enough to keep the 45-year-old woman in prison until her death.
Published: November 16, 2008
Devereux is one of six women in Oklahoma serving a life sentence without parole for drug convictions, according to records compiled by state Corrections Department staff.
There are 91 people serving life sentences because of drug convictions; only about 25 percent have a violent offense in their history.
Devereux was convicted by a Tulsa County jury in 2005 of trafficking illegal drugs and possession of paraphernalia. Under state law, a jury is required to apply the maximum sentence for certain crimes. Because the conviction was Devereux’s third felony conviction, she was sentenced to life without parole.
At the time of her trial, she was offered a plea bargain, but she was adamant about her innocence.
She wanted a jury to decide if she was selling drugs in a Tulsa home along with her co-defendant, Earnest Allen Butler. Devereux was found guilty and sentenced to life.
Butler, 68, pleaded guilty and is serving a 13-year sentence, according to Corrections Department records.
Now at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud, Devereux attends religious meetings and is earnest in her faith. She prays for a miracle — that someday she’ll be freed.
"I’ve never lost my faith,” Devereux said during a prison interview.
"God has a plan for me.”
Devereux, mother of three, never claimed to be an angel. She’s battled drug addiction and depression. But she’s not a threat to society, she said.
"She’s had an on-and-off-again struggle with drugs, and she had been doing pretty well before all this,” said Devereux’s sister, Sheryl Fossberg, who lives in Kansas City, Mo.
‘MY KIDS WERE MY LIFE’
In her last drug conviction, Devereux was staying with Butler and told police she didn’t know he was selling drugs out of his home.
"My kids were my life,” Devereux said. "I had a good life and I got mixed up with the wrong people and started using drugs.”
Public defenders and politicians are familiar with Devereux’s case.
The case is often cited as an example of how punishment in some cases can be extreme.
"There are a lot of trafficking cases where we’ve got violent criminals who get less than that,” said Bob Ravitz, Oklahoma County public defender. "That was just a ridiculous sentence to give to her.”
In the years that Devereux was not controlled by her drug addiction, she attended business school, sent her children to Christian schools and was involved with her church.
"Hindsight is 20/20,” Devereux said. "After my divorce, I took drugs to escape. I would never use them around my kids, but I used them to ease the pain of life. Now I turn to God.”
Justin Jones, director of the state Corrections Department, said, "You’ve got to ask yourself if incarcerating someone who is only a threat to themselves for the rest of their lives is a good investment in public safety.”
Keeping Devereux in prison for life could cost taxpayers more than $700,000, Jones said.
A woman serving life in prison for a drug conviction is asking the district attorney to review her sentence, because two Tulsa police officers involved in her arrest are charged with planting drugs in other cases.
Sheila Devereux, 47, has asked Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris to review her case, which involved a 2005 conviction for drug trafficking, she told the Tulsa World.
Devereux refused a plea agreement and was convicted on one count of drug trafficking Oct. 24, 2005, Tulsa County District Court records show.
A jury sentenced Devereux to life without parole under the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substance Act, according to her recently denied appeal. With two previous convictions for drug possession, Devereux qualified for a life sentence under the three-strikes law in Oklahoma, records show.
Before her trial, prosecutors offered her a plea deal of seven years in prison, she said.
"I did not take the plea bargain because I was not going to plead guilty to something I did not do," Devereux said. "I knew I could face life in prison but I had faith in the justice system. I now only have faith in God."
In an interview with the World at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud, Devereux recounted her arrest Jan. 20, 2005, and wept when speaking of being separated from her family.
Dressed in gray prison attire, Devereux said her debt to society should not involve spending her entire life in prison.
In her appeal to Harris' office, she is willing to accept the same or lesser sentence as her codefendant, Earnest Allen Butler, 70, she said.
Butler pleaded guilty to drug trafficking March 15, 2005, and received a 13-year prison term, records show. Butler has a previous drug felony and remains incarcerated with a release date of November 2017, records show.
Before receiving her life sentence, Devereux said she had only spent about six months in prison for previous convictions that resulted in probation.
"My sentence is worse than the (Charles) Manson sentence," said Devereux, a mother of three children.
"I have been a drug abuser, and I have not lived a perfect life, but I am not a drug trafficker. In the past, I have possessed drugs, and I have used drugs, but on the day of my arrest, I was not aware of drugs in that house. I was not high or using drugs."
On Sept. 30, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld Devereux's life sentence by denying her request to modify her sentence, records show. Devereux's appeal argued numerous points, including that her sentence was cruel and unusual punishment. The court said: "We find that (her) sentence does not shock the Court's conscience."
After her life sentence was upheld, Devereux's family contacted the World and learned that Harris' office is reviewing the cases of eight current and former Tulsa police officers whose names have surfaced as part of a grand jury looking into police corruption.
Federal indictments have alleged that officers stole drugs and money, planted drugs, falsified search warrants and violated civil rights.
Two officers involved in Devereux's case - Officer Nick DeBruin and retired Officer Harold R. Wells - were indicted July 20 in U.S. District Court.
DeBruin and Wells are charged with theft of U.S. funds, possession of drugs and civil rights violations, in which the officers allegedly planted small amounts of methamphetamine and crack cocaine on people, the indictment states. The officers are not accused of wrongdoing in the Devereux case.
The World contacted attorneys representing the officers but received no comment.
Thus far, six former or current police officers and a former federal agent have been charged in the corruption probe. Two additional former officers have admitted stealing drug money and have immunity while they cooperate with prosecutors. Additionally, 21 people have been freed from prison or have had their felony cases dismissed as part of the federal investigation, records show.
On Wednesday, a federal judge threw out the life sentence of Demario T. Harris, 30. He was freed Thursday after serving about five years in prison, records show.
Demario Harris is the second person serving a life sentence to be set free because of involvement of the indicted officers. A federal judge freed DeMarco Deon Williams on April 30. Williams, 35, was serving two life sentences and spent about six years in jail or federal prison before being freed.
In state court, Harris' office or judges have dismissed drug cases or convictions of 10 people, including setting free Parra Nishimoto, who was serving 15 years for drug trafficking.
Case under review
Assistant District Attorney Doug Drummond said Devereux's case is being reviewed.
"Her case is on a priority list," Drummond said. "She fits the criteria, but there are other factors we must also review. They include whether or not other officers at the scene can corroborate the facts of the arrest. Just because some of the officers involved in her case are charged in the federal indictment does not mean the case will be automatically dismissed or modified, nor are the officers guilty of any misconduct."
Drummond detailed how Harris' office is prioritizing criminal cases associated with the officers whose names have surfaced in the police investigation.
While the number of cases identified by Harris' office has grown exponentially, only a handful of cases are part of an active priority list, Drummond said.
Currently, about 15 cases involving the officers are under active review. Primarily, these are cases in which officers indicted or mentioned in the federal investigation were significantly involved, and in which the defendants did not accept a plea bargain, Drummond said.
Harris' office is reviewing the cases to see the level of involvement of the indicted officers and if the cases can stand on their own if the officers were not essentially involved in the case, Drummond said.
A second category involves a large number of cases in which little or no action is being taken, due to the number of the cases and available staffing, Drummond said.
"There is a large category of cases in which not a lot is being done," Drummond said. "We have a list of the cases, and we have been contacted by attorneys, family or the defendants themselves in some of the cases, but we cannot shut down our operations to solely address these cases. We have to prioritize them."
Those cases involve people who pleaded guilty and officers who have been indicted or are cooperating with prosecutors, Drummond said.
In Devereux's case, DeBruin is the officer who weighed the cocaine found in Butler's home, records show.
Wells is listed as the officer who field-tested the drugs to determine if they were illegal substances, records show.
At least two other officers participated in the search warrant, which named Butler and his residence as the focus of the drug bust. Devereux's name was not on the search warrant, and a confidential informant did not mention her presence in the home, records show. Those additional two officers are not accused of wrongdoing.
Officers stated that Devereux was believed to be flushing drugs in the bathroom after they entered the residence, her denied appeal states.
Devereux also allegedly told police that she brought customers to Butler's home to purchase cocaine, the appeal states.
Devereux told the Tulsa World that several statements made by officers involved in her case are untrue.
"I was not flushing drugs down the toilet. I was nude and preparing for a shower for my son's first basketball game. I was trying to get dressed to let the officer into the bathroom," she said.
"I was only staying with him temporarily, because I had no place to stay," she said.
Larry Edwards, a former prosecutor who once placed people like Devereux in prison, said the threshold for trafficking in crack cocaine is too low and needs to be raised.
In state court, 5 grams or more of cocaine base (crack) qualifies a person for a drug trafficking charge. Police found 6.28 grams of cocaine base hidden in the kitchen ceiling and in a pipe in the bedroom of Butler's house, records show.
On the federal level, beginning Monday, the law governing crack cocaine distribution will be raised to 28 grams from 5 grams for a prison term of five years to 40 years, a federal officials said. For a term of 10 years to life, the amount will be raised to 280 grams from 50 grams.
"The (state) law absolutely needs to be changed because it is too low for trafficking," said Edwards, who served as an assistant district attorney for 14 years and as drug czar in the Tulsa County District Attorney's office.
Devereux said she has remained drug free since Dec. 20, 2004, which is about one month before her arrest, records show.
"My days with drugs are over," Devereux said. "I have always been a good-hearted person but Christ delivered me from addiction."
Devereux's oldest son, Tyler, and daughter, Kiersten, have established a Facebook site to garner support for freeing their mother, said Tyler Devereux, an electrical engineering junior at the University of Tulsa. It is called "Help Free Sheila Devereux."
"My kids are great," Sheila Devereux said. "I know I have hurt them, and I know they have been angry at me, and that's only natural given all they have been through. But I love them, and I want to be there for them."
She recently landed a job as a telemarketer, earning prison pay of $1.45 an hour.
With her work located adjacent to the prison, Devereux walks to the job each day, returning to her prison pod after eight hours.
"When you're at work, you can forget you are in prison because you are staying busy," Devereux said. "But then you always come back here. But I have never doubted that I will be freed. God is a just God."
Hearing delayed for Tulsa woman serving life in drug case
Published: Thursday, May 12, 2011
A judge today delayed a hearing to consider setting aside the life sentence of a woman convicted of drug trafficking in 2005.
District Judge Thomas Thornbrugh had been expected to accept a plea agreement today setting aside the life sentence for Sheila Devereux. However final details are still being worked out and the hearing was rescheduled for June 16. Devereux’s case involved several Tulsa police officers indicted or named in a federal law enforcement corruption probe. However their involvement was not the reason cited by the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office in agreeing with a request by her attorney, Stan Monroe, to set the conviction aside.
Harris’ office is recommending that Devereux, 47, be allowed to plead guilty to a lesser drug charge that brings a 15-year prison sentence, according to records filed Wednesday in Tulsa County District Court. Monroe is to meet with prosecutors to discuss how much of her remaining sentence will be served as probation and what treatment options are available after release.
Her family has credited the work of the Tulsa World with bringing attention to her case.
Devereux was convicted on Oct. 24, 2005, of one count of drug trafficking, records show.
After refusing a plea bargain of seven years in 2005, Devereux was convicted of drug trafficking and received a life sentence without parole as part of Oklahoma’s “three-strikes” law for repeat offenders. She has two prior drug possession convictions.
Harris’ office is recommending throwing out the life sentence because Devereux suffered from ineffective counsel, wrote Assistant District Attorney Doug Drummond in Wednesday’s filing. Devereux was represented by the public defender’s office.
Drummond wrote: “A review of trial transcripts suggests errors were made by the trial counsel that put the defendant in an even more precarious position. Then she later finds out that appellate counsel failed to file an appeal on her behalf. It was nearly four years after the jury verdict before any appeal was filed and no ineffective assistance of counsel was raised.”
On Sept. 30, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld Devereux’s life sentence by denying her request to modify her sentence, records show. Devereux’s appeal argued numerous points, including that her sentence was cruel and unusual punishment.
While Harris’ office is recommending throwing out Devereux’s life sentence, court officials are not conceding that she is innocent or that police officers acted improperly in her case, Drummond’s filing states.
In filing her request for post-conviction relief, Devereux raised the question that three officers involved in her case have been named in a police corruption probe.
Thus far, 11 Tulsa Police officers have been indicted or named as unindicted co-conspirators or cooperating witnesses in a grand jury probe.
Meanwhile, 31 people have been freed from prison, had felony charges dismissed or granted a new trial due to the investigation.
Two indicted officers involved in Devereux’s case are Nick DeBruin and retired Officer Harold R. Wells. They were indicted July 20 in U.S. District Court.
DeBruin and Wells are charged with theft of U.S. funds, possession of drugs and civil rights violations and are accused of planting small amounts of methamphetamine and crack cocaine on people. They are not accused of wrongdoing in the Devereux case.
Recent developments reveal that a third Tulsa police officer involved in Devereux’s case has been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of Officers Jeff Henderson and Bill Yelton, her filing states.
Frank Khalil was named as an unindicted co-conspirator March 24 by federal prosecutors overseeing the grand jury investigation of the Tulsa Police Department, a World investigation shows. Khalil is not charged with wrongdoing.
The police trial for Henderson and Yelton is scheduled to begin June 20, while the trial for DeBruin, Wells and Officer Bruce Bonham is scheduled for May 31. Bonham is not connected to the Devereux case.
While Devereux admitted she is a drug user, in a recent World interview, she denied being a drug trafficker.
When she was arrested in the home of her codefendant, Earnest Allen Butler, Devereux said she had only been staying at the residence about two months. She was not the person listed on the search warrant, records show.
Butler, 71, was listed on the search warrant.
One of her children, Tyler Devereux, a junior majoring in electrical engineering at the University of Tulsa, said Devereux’s family had almost given up hope once his mother’s life sentence was upheld. Out of desperation, he said he contacted the Tulsa World in attempt to tell his mother’s story.
Until contacting the World, the family was unaware that his mother’s case involved two indicted police officers and an unindicted co-conspirator.
“I think I was the first to really find out and that was when (the World) responded to my email and started discussing it with me,” Tyler Devereux said.
“Without a doubt the World’s stories have raised issues and changed things for my mother’s case. It would be a much different picture without the World stories.”
Butler was paroled from prison in October 2009, Department of Corrections records show. He pleaded guilty on March 15, 2005, to drug trafficking and received a 13-year prison term, records show. Butler has a previous felony drug conviction.
Devereux and Butler were found to have possessed 6.28 grams of cocaine base, which qualified them for drug-trafficking convictions by about 1 gram. In state court, 5 grams or more of cocaine base (crack) qualifies a person for a drug-trafficking charge, court officials have said.
Monroe asked for an evidentiary hearing based on newly discovered evidence and alleged ineffective counsel.
The new evidence includes an alleged pattern of misconduct by Wells, DeBruin and Khalil, which could render the officers impeachable as witnesses in Devereux's case if an evidentiary hearing were granted, Monroe's filing states.
Devereux's case was one of dozens being reviewed by the District Attorney's Office, Drummond has said.
Devereux was born in Rapid City, South Dakota and grew up in Kansas City, Mo., said her son. She has lived in Tulsa since about 1994 and has three children: Tyler, Kiersten and Niklas.
Devereux dropped out of high school in the 11th grade and obtained her GED.
Before her addiction escalated, Devereux was trying to get into a cosmetology career, Tyler Devereux said.
She graduated from a Kansas City business school, he said.
In her interview with the World from prison in October, Sheila Devereux said: “I take responsibility for my actions. I have been a drug user but I am not a trafficker.”
While the family was aware of Devereux’s previous drug problems, Tyler Devereux said the family was unprepared for the life sentence she received.
“When I first found out, it did not really hit me. I don't think at that age I really knew what was going on and why.
``I remember one time after the sentencing, for some reason it really hit me. I was with my girlfriend watching a movie with their family. All of a sudden, I just started crying my eyes out. I laid there for probably two hours and just cried because reality had set in that my mom was going to die in prison.”
Once Sheila Devereux was sent to prison, her children had limited contact with her by telephone.
“My sister and brother and I probably talked to her about once a week on the phone for the 15 minute period we are allotted,” Tyler Devereux said.
He said the family’s hopes for freeing Sheila were dashed when the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld her life sentence.
“We were optimistic about the appeal and thought it would work out but we were stunned when the court affirmed the sentence.”
Sentenced to life in drug case, Tulsa woman gets a chance at freedom
A preliminary deal has been reached that will set aside the life sentence of a Tulsa woman who was convicted of drug trafficking in 2005, court officials said Thursday.
Sheila Devereux, 47, appeared before Tulsa County District Judge Tom Thornbrugh on Thursday. She filed a request for post-conviction relief April 18 seeking to reduce or vacate her sentence, records show.
After refusing a plea deal of seven years, Devereux was convicted and sentenced to life without parole in 2005. She qualified for Oklahoma's "three-strikes" law for repeat offenders because of two prior drug-possession convictions - in 1999 and 2001.
Devereux's case involved several Tulsa police officers who have since been indicted or named in a federal probe of law enforcement corruption in Tulsa.
Her pleading states that new evidence in her case includes an alleged pattern of misconduct by three officers that could render them impeachable as witnesses if an evidentiary hearing were granted. Her case is one of dozens reviewed by the District Attorney's Office.
However, the officers' involvement was not the reason prosecutors cited in agreeing to set aside her conviction. Prosecutors responded to Devereux's request for a reduced sentence by recommending that she be allowed to plead guilty to a lesser drug charge due to ineffective counsel at her trial, according to records filed Wednesday in Tulsa County District Court.
Devereux is expected to return to court June 16 to learn the details of her plea offer, said her attorney, Stanley Monroe.
As part of setting aside her life sentence, court officials are prepared to offer Devereux a 15-year sentence that would be divided between prison and probation, Monroe said.
She has been in prison since November 2005.
"Everyone here, from the judge to the district attorney, is committed to Sheila being successful in her rehabilitation and life once she is released," he said. "The court wants to make sure she has a program to go to that addresses her (drug) recovery, employment and reintegration needs."
Numerous family members attended her hearing Thursday. They included her parents, Jerry and Della Sargent; and three children, Tyler Devereux, 20, Kiersten Leslie, 26, who is pregnant with Devereux's first grandchild, and Niklas Devereux, 14. Sheila Devereux's sister, Sheryl Fosberg, and aunt and uncle, June and Arvin Hout, also attended the hearing.
"We were hopeful she could come home today, but we understand that the details need to be worked out," Jerry Sargent said.
Sitting in Thornbrugh's courtroom in handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit, Devereux beamed and mouthed "I love you" to her family.
Family members quietly wept and held hands while learning of Devereux's chance of being set free.
The family credited the Tulsa World with bringing attention to her case.
Tyler Devereux, a junior majoring in electrical engineering at the University of Tulsa, has been the driving force behind the movement to obtain freedom for his mother.
"Our family is disappointed, but we continue to trust in God that everything happens for a reason and that everything will fall into place," he said. "We are happy for this opportunity that has been brought upon us, and we will continue to wait for my mom's release."
On Sept. 30, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld Devereux's life sentence by denying her request to modify her sentence, records show.
While the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office concurred in the decision to throw out Devereux's life sentence, the office is not conceding that she is innocent or that police officers acted improperly in her case, a filing by Assistant District Attorney Doug Drummond states.
"A review of trial transcripts suggests errors were made by the trial counsel that put the defendant in an even more precarious position. Then she later finds out that appellate counsel failed to file an appeal on her behalf. It was nearly four years after the jury verdict before any appeal was filed and no ineffective assistance of counsel (issue) was raised," Drummond stated in the filing.
In filing her request for post-conviction relief, Devereux raised the issue that three officers involved in her case have been named in the police corruption probe.
Thus far, 11 Tulsa police officers have been indicted or named as unindicted co-conspirators or cooperating witnesses in a grand jury probe.
Meanwhile, 31 people have been freed from prison, had felony charges dismissed or been granted new trials due to the investigation.
Two of the defendants in the police corruption case, Officer Nick DeBruin and retired Officer Harold R. Wells, were involved in Devereux's case.
DeBruin and Wells are charged with theft of U.S. funds, possession of drugs and civil rights violations and are accused of planting small amounts of methamphetamine and crack cocaine on people. They are not accused in the indictments of wrongdoing in the Devereux case.
Recent developments reveal that a third Tulsa police officer involved in Devereux's case, Frank Khalil, has been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the police corruption case.
In an October interview with the World, Devereux admitted being a drug user but denied being a drug trafficker.
When she was arrested in the home of her co-defendant, Earnest Allen Butler, Devereux said she had been staying at the residence about two months. She was not the person listed on a search warrant that was served there, records show.
Butler, 71, was listed on the search warrant.
After Devereux's life sentence was upheld, Tyler Devereux contacted the World out of desperation, he said.
Until contacting the World, the family was unaware that his mother's case involved two indicted police officers and an unindicted co-conspirator.
"Without a doubt the World's stories raised issues and changed things for my mother's case," Tyler Devereux said. "It would be a much different picture without the World stories."
Butler was paroled from prison in October 2009. He pleaded guilty March 15, 2005, to drug trafficking and received a 13-year prison term, records show. He has a previous felony drug conviction.
Devereux and Butler were found to have possessed 6.28 grams of cocaine base. In state court, 5 grams or more of cocaine base (crack) qualifies a person for a drug-trafficking charge, court officials have said.
While the family was aware of Devereux's previous drug problems, Tyler Devereux said the family was unprepared for the life sentence she received.
"I remember one time after the sentencing, for some reason it really hit me," he said. "I was with my girlfriend watching a movie with their family. All of a sudden, I just started crying my eyes out. I laid there for probably two hours and just cried because reality had set in that my mom was going to die in prison."
Recently released prisoner gets new look, outlook on life
A few months ago, hair and makeup were the last things on Sheila Devereux's mind.
The Tulsa woman was recently released from prison, after a months-long fight to reduce her life without parole sentence, stemming from Oklahoma's "three strikes" law for repeat offenders for two prior drug-possession convictions.
After reading stories about her in the Tulsa World, a group of local professionals and business owners are helping Devereux put prison orange behind her, by giving the mother of three a makeover.
"I'm on cloud nine. I'm walking on air," said Devereux last week, at an interview at Starbucks in Utica Square. "It's not luck. It's a blessing. It just seems like I must have been doing something right for everything to fall into place."
Thanks to the determination of her family and attorneys, she was given probation and credit for her six years served in prison and now lives in a halfway house.
Family and friends gathered Saturday at a party to celebrate her release from prison, and she debuted her fresh look: a new hairstyle, eyebrow shaping and a facial donated from Casa Blanca's salon; a manicure and pedicure from b. Jolie salon; new shoes from The Glass Slipper; and a new outfit from a group of local well-wishers. And a dentist, who wished to be anonymous, is donating his cosmetic dentistry services to Devereux.
"I'm not good at receiving," she said, wiping away tears. "I'm still a little overwhelmed, but I'm so grateful and thankful and staying very humble."
Her son, Tyler Devereux, was determined to help his mother and launched a campaign to help her on Facebook. He's an electrical engineering student at the University of Tulsa, and he credits the Tulsa World for bringing attention to her case.
He and his sister, Kiersten Leslie, who had her first baby nine weeks ago, said they can't stop smiling about the little things they are enjoying with their mother.
"I'll be at the grocery store and I turn around and I can't find my mother, and I'll find her standing looking at all the beauty products," Leslie said, laughing. "So much has changed since she's been gone."
Tyler Devereux said his classmates and friends have offered their support.
"I was at the grocery store and one of my professors at TU came up to us and said he was really happy for us," he said. "And on Facebook, a friend sent me a message and said they saw my mom's picture and since she had her hair done, she lost 10 years off her looks."
Gretchen Everton, a stylist at Casa Blanca's Salon, offered to update Devereux's hairstyle and gave her a cut, color and highlights.
"I wanted to do something that would make her feel better about herself on the outside, so she'd have more confidence on the inside," Everton said. "If you have that confidence about how you look, I think it helps in every aspect of life and helps you make better choices."
Devereux hopes to get a job in an office and would like to return to school to become a drug and alcohol abuse counselor.
She was thrilled to see her friends and family, many of whom traveled from out of state to celebrate her return last weekend.
"I keep telling my kids that I need to make sure I get some waterproof mascara," she said. "Before I was released, I was so excited but I was like, 'I'll believe it when I walk through that blue door,' " she said of the door where visitors would walk through.
"I was told I would die in prison, but I always knew in my heart that God was working to help us and I would be released one day," she said. "God kept his promise."