Tondalo Hall was allegedly being abused by her boyfriend, Robert Braxton Jr. Yet when Braxton broke the ribs and femur of their 3-month-old daughter, he served just two years in prison, while Hall was sentenced to 30 years for allowing the abuse to happen. She was one of 28 mothers in similar situations uncovered in a recent BuzzFeed investigation, one of just three such cases in which the mom got a longer sentence than the man who abused the child. Now, BuzzFeed reports, she is applying for her sentence to be commuted. Clemency seems to be the only option left: She lost her appeal; the judge denied a request to modify the sentence, of which 20 years remain; and she's not eligible for parole until 2030.
In court during her trial, as well as in statements outside of court, Hall described the abuse she says she suffered; the judge who sentenced her acknowledged that she seemed to fear Braxton. She tells BuzzFeed things got especially bad when their second child was born in 2004. She says she never saw Braxton hurt their kids. But that fall, she brought their 20-month-old son to the hospital when she noticed his leg was swollen; he had a fractured femur and broken bones, leading suspicious authorities to check on his 3-month-old sister and find her injuries. Both parents were arrested. Hall ended up pleading guilty and testifying against Braxton, though she did not get a reduced sentence in return and he did get a deal when prosecutors realized their case against him was going south. An activist group has started a petition on Hall's behalf.