Drug-trafficker gets new hearing
BY OMER GILLHAM World Staff Writer
Thursday, April 28, 2011
4/28/11 at 6:19 AM
Grand jury investigates police corruption: Read all of the stories, view a timeline and read key documents.
A Tulsa County judge has granted a new hearing for a woman who is serving life without parole for a drug bust that involved three police officers who have been named in a police corruption probe, records show.
Sheila Devereux, 47, was convicted of one count of drug-trafficking and was sentenced Oct. 24, 2005, to life in prison without parole based on Oklahoma's "three-strikes" law, records show.
Devereux's appeal to reduce her prison sentence was denied Sept. 30 by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, records show. Her appeal argued numerous points, including that her sentence was cruel and unusual punishment.
As first reported by the Tulsa World in October, Devereux then asked the district attorney to review her life sentence based on the involvement in her arrest of two Tulsa police officers who are charged with planting drugs in other cases, U.S. District Court records show.
Since that time, a third Tulsa police officer who was involved in her case has been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the police corruption case.
On Wednesday, Tulsa County District Judge Thomas Thornbrugh granted Devereux's request for a hearing to consider post-conviction relief based on new evidence and alleged ineffective counsel, records show.
The hearing is scheduled for May 12.
The indicted officers involved in Devereux's case are Nick DeBruin and retired Officer Harold R. Wells. They were indicted July 20 in federal 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 an additional Tulsa police officer involved in Devereux's case has been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case of Officers Jeff Henderson and Bill Yelton, her filing states.
Frank Khalil was named March 24 by federal prosecutors overseeing the grand jury investigation of the Tulsa Police Department, a Tulsa World investigation shows. Khalil has not been charged.
The police trial for Henderson and Yelton is scheduled to begin June 20, and the trial for DeBruin, Wells and Officer Bruce Bonham is scheduled for May 16.
Bonham is not connected to the Devereux case.
Devereux's co-defendant, Earnest Allen Butler, 71, was paroled from prison in October 2009, Department of Corrections records show. He pleaded guilty March 15, 2005, to drug-trafficking and received a 13-year prison term. 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, or crack, qualifies a person for a drug-trafficking charge, court officials have said.
Devereux denied being involved with drug-trafficking and refused a plea bargain of seven years before her 2005 trial, records show.
Omer Gillham 918-581-8301
Sheila Devereux: She was sentenced in 2005 to life in prison without parole.