TULSA, Okla. — Thanks to the help of supporters, a woman who had owed court costs in a 2010 case related to the sale of $31 worth of cannabis was released from the Oklahoma County jail Wednesday, freed from further financial obligations in the case.
Patricia Spottedcrow, 34, was released around 3 p.m. Wednesday after spending two days in jail on a cost-collection bench warrant that said she owed Kingfisher County $1,139.90 in overdue payments. Kingfisher County cost administrator Lindsey Weaver said seven people paid the office enough money to satisfy that amount and the rest of Spottedcrow’s outstanding debt.
“Her balance is zero,” Weaver said. “People just ended up paying her entire balance off, so she doesn’t have to pay any more.”
She said the assistance from well-wishers should mean Spottedcrow has no further business with the court system on any case.
An employee in the Kingfisher County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday that Spottedcrow did not have any supervision requirements remaining with the agency. Court documents indicate that the Oklahoma Department of Corrections completed its supervision duties in June 2018.
An Oklahoma City Police Department incident report indicates that an officer “made voluntary contact” with Spottedcrow at the Plaza Inn Motel parking lot around 1 a.m. Monday. The officer wrote that he arrested her after confirming that a felony warrant for her arrest had been issued in Kingfisher County. The arrest report does not allege that Spottedcrow committed any new crime.
Once the Kingfisher County Court Clerk’s Office received the $1,139.90 payment, Weaver said sheriff’s deputies there alerted Oklahoma County that they no longer had a reason for Spottedcrow to stay in custody.
Kingfisher County District Attorney Mike Fields said Tuesday that his office did not request or approve the arrest warrant and said he did not anticipate that his office would get involved in the matter.
Spottedcrow was 25 in 2010 when she entered blind pleas, or pleas made without a prosecutor’s sentencing recommendation, to distribution of a controlled substance — cannabis — to a police informant and to possession in the presence of a minor. Her mother, Delita Starr, was also arrested and later received a 30-year suspended sentence.
The proceeds from the two cannabis sales, which took place in December 2009 and January 2010, was $31. Spottedcrow had no other felony convictions at the time.
A Kingfisher County judge sentenced Spottedcrow to 12 years in prison and ordered her to serve a two-year concurrent term for drug possession after a jailer found cannabis in her jacket pocket following her sentencing hearing. Starr became the caregiver for Spottedcrow’s four children during her time in prison.
The Tulsa World met Spottedcrow upon her arrival at prison and featured her story in a 2011 project about women who are incarcerated in Oklahoma, which helped generate grassroots advocacy efforts to secure her release. Another judge in Kingfisher County presided over a judicial review in 2011 and modified her sentence to eight years in prison with four years suspended.
The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board reviewed her case early and recommended her release, which then-Gov. Mary Fallin authorized, although she said Spottedcrow should complete a stint at the community corrections level first. Spottedcrow was released from Hillside Community Corrections Center in Oklahoma City in November 2012.
She has since gotten married and had at least two other children, telling the World in 2017 that she spends time in Kingfisher and in motels in Oklahoma City due to difficulties finding permanent housing and employment.
More recently, Spottedcrow received a six-month jail term in Kingfisher County in June 2018 after then-Associate District Judge Robert Davis partially revoked her suspended sentence. He noted that Spottedcrow admitted drinking beer and missed at least one meeting with her probation officer.
Davis also approved the cost-collection bench warrant in August 2018, writing only in a court minute that “defendant failed to pay fines and costs.” Court records indicate that it was the sixth bench warrant authorized since 2014 in Spottedcrow’s case, and the clerk’s office recorded mailing her more than a dozen notices of late payments during the same time period.
Weaver said her department levies a $10 charge on defendants each time a late payment notice is mailed, which occurs 10 days after the payment due date. If a payment is not received within 10 days after the notice is sent, a bench warrant can be issued, costing defendants an additional $80.
Spottedcrow had signed an agreement in 2013 to pay $50 per month on a total balance of $3,921.97. In May 2018, a week after a two-day jail stint following a missed court date, Spottedcrow wrote a letter to Davis asking for more time to “get my affairs in order” ahead of a hearing on revocation of her suspended sentence. She hinted at financial troubles due to caring for her small children.
A bailiff replied in writing, “Judge Davis is unable to have direct communication from you about this case” and said Spottedcrow’s letter had been forwarded to her former attorney and a prosecutor.