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Yolanda Madden released from prison, granted retrial

By Stephen C. Webster
Saturday, December 19, 2009 12:02 EDT
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‘KopBusters’ filmmaker hails collective effort to ‘fight corruption’

A high-profile Texas drug prisoner is prisoner no more.

On Friday, Dec. 18, a federal judge in Odessa granted Yolanda Madden her freedom, allowing her to walk out of state custody for the first time in nearly five years.

Federal judge Rob Junell ordered Madden’s sentence vacated because the prosecution had withheld evidence that might have negated a key piece of material evidence, according to The Odessa American.

He added that neither the Odessa police nor the U.S. District Attorney’s office appeared to be involved in wrongdoing in the case. A retrial is possible in March, 2010.

Madden, jailed in 2005 on a conviction of intent to distribute methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school zone, was the reason that Barry Cooper came to Odessa, Texas last December.

After being hired to embarrass the local police by Yolanda’s father Raymond, Cooper set up a fake marijuana grow house and baited officers to stage an illegal raid. When they did, police were confronted by an empty house and lots of cameras, with a hand-written poster explaining they had become part of a new reality show called “KopBusters”.

For Yolanda, the stunt was just the beginning of efforts to secure her freedom.

“This is so exciting,” Cooper told RAW STORY. “We’re so happy to see Yolanda out of that cage and back with her family where she belongs.”

“Everybody knows we attached this case and ‘KopBuster’ program to my attorney general campaign as proof that citizens can band together to fight corruption,” he told an Odessa CBS affiliate station.

On the CBS news video, Madden’s grandmother literally dances for joy after embracing her granddaughter for the first time in years.

Odessa police, which Cooper and the Madden family insist planted drugs on Yolanda and lied to ensure her conviction, had no reaction to the ruling.

“My message to [others with family in jail]: Never stop visiting your loved ones behind bars and if you have, reunite now!” Cooper told RAW STORY. “Always send letters. Raise hell if your loved one is caged for a non-violent drug crime. Now is the time to yell because this unjustified drug war is finally receiving the attention and criticisms it deserves. Go now and support your incarcerated sons and daughters and husbands and wives and mothers and fathers and cousins and friends.”

“The City of Odessa remains confident that justice will be served in this case,” read a prepared statement, noted by CBS 7.

This video was broadcast by CBS 7 in Odessa on Dec. 18, 2009.

This story was updated from a prior version.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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