A case that has brought a series of ups and downs finally came to an end on Wednesday as Yolanda Madden was sentenced to three years of probation. The case dates back to 2005 and has involved many twists and turns over the past five years. In fact, some might say Madden's case has been one for the record books. First she went to prison...then she was released. First there was evidence to convict her...then holes were found in the evidence and the verdict was vacated. It's been a wild roller coaster that brought highs and lows, but now that roller coaster seems to have come to a stop...at least for now.
"Obviously this had been quite a saga for the community and, of course, for the police department, and the sentencing [Wednesday] is the culmination of this case," Tim Burton, Odessa Police Chief, said.
In June of 2005, Madden was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. She was convicted in 2006 and sent to prison, but madden insisted that she had been set up. A civil lawsuit was filed against the Odessa Police Department, in which Madden claimed that officers had coerced an informant to plant drugs on her.
"The accusations that have come out in this trial as put forth by Ms. Madden has bothered me greatly as city manager because I know how hard our guys work, and I'm glad to see that it's finally over," Richard Morton, Odessa City Manager, said.
"Sometimes the steps in the justice system are messy. Sometimes they're elongated, but in the end we reach a righteous conclusion most of the time. And in this case that is certainly what has occurred," Burton said.
But it's been a long and tedious process. While Madden was in prison, her father allegedly hired a man named Barry Cooper to setup up a fake marijuana grow house...baiting Odessa police officers to stage an illegal raid. Odessa police did raid the house...only to find out it was part of a corruption reality show called Kopbusters. Cooper has now filed a lawsuit against the city and the police department.
"I'm somewhat limited in my ability to comment on that matter. Although we haven't been formally served, I'm told, at least through you folks, through the media, that apparently there is a lawsuit that either will be filed or will be served upon the city shortly," Burton said.
In December of 2009, new evidence became available and U.S. District Judge Robert Junell released Madden from prison. Then in May of this year, Madden accepted a plea deal and testified that she was dishonest about her accusations against the officers.
"Here's a young lady that did something wrong. She got caught and she tried to lie her way out of the situation. And ultimately she served time for that...for her behavior," Morton said.
"I hope that it sends a message...that involvement in illegal drugs, both using illegal drugs, trafficking illegal drugs, selling illegal drugs...can ruin peoples lives," Burton said.
Burton and Morton both said they respect the decision of the court in terms of the conviction and in terms of the sentencing. Concerning Kopbusters and the lawsuit filed by Cooper...there's no word yet on when the city will be served.