Juli and Ric
Click on our photo below to go to petition
to Commute Ric's sentence.
Ric and I met in Yelm, Washington in the summer of 1976. Dad was retiring after 20 years in the military and the family returned to his hometown. Ric had moved to Washington with his sister, Jill, from Indiana. Jill and I met and became friends while Ric was away in the apple orchards east of the mountains. Ric was 17, I was 16.
Oh, that silly boy came back into town and there were stars in both of our eyes. We were crazy about each other. But the economy was bad. He had a connection in Oklahoma and a few months later left to fulfill his life’s dream, to learn to frame houses. He knew from when he was a small boy sitting on the curb and watching a house being built across the street that that was what he wanted to do.
I pined away for him. He had left in the fall. My birthday was in early November, I had a little money saved from babysitting for his sister. And the folks gave me $50 for my birthday. I had enough money to buy a one-way ticket on a bus to Tulsa. I ran away from home.
I appeared on his doorstep shortly thereafter. We lived in the Pala Dora on Denver St. in Tulsa that winter. On Christmas day in 1976, he asked me to marry him. Of course, I said yes! Unfortunately, our poverty drove us apart. I had to go back to Washington State with plans of returning the following summer to start our young lives together. It wasn’t meant to be. At least not yet.
Ric pursued his dreams of being a house framer in Oklahoma. Owned his own business, employed a successful framing crew. He always enjoyed working with his hands, can fix most anything, did his own mechanic work, can do most phases of home construction. Prides himself on the precision of his work. Loves a challenge. Fancy roofs, ceilings, and suspended circular staircases.
I did some commercial fishing in Alaska, installed hardwood floors, waited tables, and sold real estate amongst the various jobs I tried. Settled in Seattle. I started a non-toxic
residential and commercial cleaning service in 1988. Bought my home in 1995. Pursued my lifelong love of art. Found my niche in the glass arts and built my studio in 2004 on my property. It's that subtle colored building behind Ric's truck..............
My passion for glass led to many years of study, volunteer work and teaching at a local art center. I have received recognition for my art and my work is in prominent art collections around the country. Unknown to me until well into my journey I am descended from a stained glass artist who's work includes the Apse at Battel Chapel at Yale University.
Ric and I had other relationships. Both married once and raised our partners’ children. Neither of us had children of our own. Both struggled in our relationships with others. We never forgot each other. We were looking for each other. In the early years, I would see his sister Jill now and then and always asked about him. I didn’t know he was doing the same when he spoke with her. Ric thought of me every time he heard the Pink Floyd song “Wish You Were Here.” He heard that song a lot. Sends a chill down me, the lines “did you trade a walk on part in the war, for a lead role in a cage........”
In January of 2007, I went to a funeral in Yelm. Someone I had met only a few brief times. Woke up not feeling well and it would take all day. At the last minute, I called to say I wouldn’t make it. Something just kept nagging at me. I just had to go anyway. That was the beginning of a chain of events, like watching dominoes fall, that brought Ric and I back together, altering both of our lives in ways we never imagined.
Ric worked hard building houses outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This was his passion, his pride. There was a building boom going on and it was virtually impossible to keep up with the workload. But he had to keep up or lose his position with his builder and put his crew out of work. His builder would tell him you had better buy a big sack of drugs this week because there is lots of work to do. He worked nights and weekends to keep up.
Many people use drugs as performance enhancers, from truck drivers to musicians, computer techies, and reporters working to meet deadlines, and many others in between. Our own government has fed these drugs to soldiers and pilots in times of war, creating addicts that we then incarcerate. Then in the 60’s and 70’s women used Dexedrine for weight loss. Even now, we feed it to our kids in prescription form for ADHD. Speed. Meth. So what happens when you find yourself addicted?
Eventually the drugs took their toll. Over time, he had to let his business go. His addiction was expensive, up to $300 a day. He refused to sell drugs or steal to support his habit. For him the sanest thing to do was to take up his dealers offer to learn to make the drug to feed his addiction in exchange for drugs to feed his out of control habit. He hated his life. Wanted his life to change. Barely able to function even with the drugs he finally reached out to his sister, Jill. She booked a flight down to Tulsa in 2002 to find him some help. She couldn’t find him any they could afford. Months later, he finds himself in the back of a cop car, under arrest, for manufacturing a controlled dangerous substance.
Ric was very sick. Without some sort of intervention, he would probably not be with us today. For that, we are very grateful. We do wish that the intervention had been accessible treatment, not incarceration.
Ric has never claimed innocence. What he has said is he was not treated fairly given the nature of his offenses. He asked for help. None was available. Others were involved, yet not pursued. He was presented to the jury as a one man show, not sn addict wanting help. So now he is the property of the Oklahoma DOC. He is the FIRST of three known to be charged with this offense in the country. Told he would be made an example of.
Appears he was a notch in someones belt. If he had recieved the sentence routinely given for his crimes of a first time non violent offense, he would of been out years ago. Even in Oklahoma.
Researching case after case in Oklahoma I find multitudes of examples of sentences for many more serious drug crimes involving POUNDS, TONS of drugs with a fraction of the sentence. Nationaly we have Nicole Babeck sentenced to five years probation in August 2010 for her involvement in distributing $10,000 worth of meth a week. We have Diego Montoya Sanchez, Drug cartell kingpin, BILLIONS worth of cocaine trafficked into the US, reports of hundreds, up to 1500 dead because of his orders. Sentenced in Florida last year to 45 years. Ric got 71 years. $1200 worth of drugs. No one died. No one was threated.
A charge meant to curtail manufacturing and distribution. Meant to reign in the drug king pins, not the addicts. He was a by-catch. When I was fishing in Alaska they were known as shit fish. Not what we were after. An accident. We threw them back. We had bigger fish to fry. So does Oklahoma.
Richard Wasson Sipe III #464566
Property of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
Aggravated Manufacture of a Controlled Drug- Meth-amphetamine: 60 years
Aggravated means over 50 grams. He was charged with possession of 57 grams.
The testifying cop set the value of the drugs at $22,800 during his trial, scaring the jury. His attorney did not object.
That same year the director of Public Information at the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs was quoted in the newspaper on another case on street value for meth. Using his calculations the actual street value for the drugs Ric was accused of possessing was $1,200.
Possession Of a Firearm in Commission of a Felony: 10 years
Ric was gifted with a hunting rifle as a young man from his beloved uncle after successful completion of hunting safety instruction. Ric was a deer hunter as are many of the citizens of Oklahoma. Ric also had possession of a vintage non functioning firearm that was inherited from his father. The firearm charge resulted from the gun in his rented home. Ric's co defendant was arrested there next to the firearm. Ric was arrested at another address yet received a charge that would of meant he had super human powered rubber arms in order to actually touch the weapon he was charged with.
Failure To Affix Oklahoma Tax Stamp To Controlled Drug: 1 year probation
I’m curious where the office is to buy a tax stamp for illegal drugs. I have a stamp collection. Would like to add those stamps to my collection.......I've gone to the website. When you try to link to the information page regarding what the fees would be for this stamp, well, go figure!!!! It doesn't exist.
First time offender, non violent drug offense.
His co defendant, without testifying against him, served just 10 months. Ric was arrested in a building leased by a known drug manufacturer.The other people involved where never pursued.
His trial was a travesty, his trial attorney did not object to anything the prosecution did in over 600 pages of trial transcript. Without objections, there is no room for appeals. His court appointed appeal attorney apparently did not read his transcripts according to his post conviction appeal attorney, or raise the issue of ineffective counsel, did not speak about how the Officer who filed the Affidavit for search warrant purjured himself on the stand. The filing of many documents are a joke. How can you recieve a search warrant prior to the affidavit for search warrant? How can you file the Officers return (showing he served the search warrant) prior to both the Affidavit for Search Warrant and the Search Warrant being issued?
His sentence carries a mandatory 85% served before getting any good time or being eligible for parole. The jury was not notified of this. This has been grounds of throwing cases out many times before.
Unless someone listens, he will never come home from prison.
He is 51 years old. He has been in for nearly 8 years. His fathe rdied at 54 of heart failure. Recently he developed extremely high blood preassure during a very severe extended lock down in his prison.
Since he has been incarcerated his beloved mother died. His eldest sister, his second mother and her husband, Ric's father figure died. He has lost near 75% of his immediate family. His beloved sister Jill has heaptitus C. She had a liver transplant over three years ago. We are worried. Her blood work is now abnormal and may be indicitive of the failure of her transplanted liver.
He will be up for parole when he is 104, otherwise known as dead.
He could have murdered someone, raped someone, molested a child or any number of other unspeakable crimes and received much less time, even been out by now, 8 years later.
His investigating cop told the camera crew for Investigation Discovery that if he had taken the plea bargain, he would be free by now. A plea he was never offered. He was offered 30 years at 85%. Knowing it was not fair he chose trial. His post conviction appeal attorney, Julia Allen, said with a fair trial he would have never gone to prison.
Unfortunately, our story of injustice in the judicial system is far from unique.
We were denied our post conviction appeal for a new trial at the Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals in February 2009. We had started this journey full of hope in the spring of 2007. Once you are in the system there is no such thing as “speedy” anything. The court decision did not even address the issues our attorney brought up. Just said these issues should have been brought up by the original appeal attorney. The one who didn’t read the trial transcript. This was our point, that Ric had ineffective council at trial and at appeal. Catch 22. I found out we were denied at 5 a.m. on Valentine’s Day by looking on the internet.
Trying to process the emotions of the unthinkable ripped me apart. Our attorney had been granted retrials before on a post conviction appeal. With less merit than our case she told us. Now what? I felt like my life was a watercolor painting being rained on with everything that had structure melting into a mess that went from vibrant color to putrid destruction. Will we lose our house and my beloved art studio? I refinanced when we just had 10 years left to owning in order to pay his legal fees, canteen and phone calls. Will I need to move to Oklahoma? To go from hope to despair with the click to a computer link. I went to the park I love and fed the ducks, sat by the water, wrote to Ric and watched the lovers walk by hand in hand......
While our attorney prepared the documents for the next court, the Federal Court on a Writ of Habeas Corpus, I saw a casting call for the Investigation Discovery channel, “Prison Wives.” A series to begin airing on Valentine’s Day 2010 on women whose partners are incarcerated. I saw it several times. I am a very private person so never thought this would be something I would do. Passed on the call to others. Finally just said some prayers. I will call and the prayer was if this would help us then it would happen. I responded in mid March. Two weeks later I found out they wanted us and I was scared spit less. By mid April the film crew arrived in Seattle. They spent 11 days filming. My art, my life, his sister, my preparations to go see Ric. Followed me to Oklahoma, interviewed our attorney, his arresting officer, what I go through to get to visit him. Interviewed him and then we were given permission for the two of us to be filmed together just before I flew home. The show will be an hour-long episode.
And now we are waiting to find out if this court will even hear our case. The prosecutor says we are too late. Too late? For Justice? For the truth to come out? How can one ever be too late for a fair trial? So now we wait. Could be a year before we even know if our case will be heard. Then if it is, another year to wait.
In the meantime I found out that we can approach the Pardon and Parole Board about a commutation. Ric never claimed innocence. He takes responsibility for his actions. He was an addict who wanted, requested, help. Society failed him. Still all he is asking for is what is usual given his offenses. Not to be made an extreme example of. Only three people in Oklahoma have received his charge of “aggravated manufacturing” in the eight years it has existed. The charge was meant to reign in distributors, high-level drug manufacturers, not low-level drug addicts who were not dealing.
That’s where we stand. Praying that the Parole Board and the Governor of Oklahoma will see that Ric’s conviction was made by an overzealous court, a court that was frustrated by the communities meth problem and anxious to find ways to curtail it, sweeping Ric up and deciding that a messed up drug addict should be given the sentence of a drug king pin while his co defendant, without testifying against him should walk free after 10 months.
If our story touches you and you would like to help in any way please go to the contact us and links page. We greatly appreciate any support.
Update. We lost in the district Federal Court in Oklahoma. Time barred. I finally called the court in May, 2010. Found out we were kicked out in mid December. Our attorney did not tell us. Therefore we are way to late to appeal.
Our petition to the Pardon and Parole Board for commutation is in the works. We sure need any help we can get. Sigh the petition, write letters, send me letters, even a short to who it may concern is of value to us for our files and for distribution.
Big Hugs and gratitude for any help you can give. Much love,
Juli and Ric............