Attorney: Firefighter accused of theft was depressed

HOUSTON /*Jane Draycott*/'s arrest got so much attention because she was at the center of a fire department harassment scandal.

Civil attorney Joe Ahmad, criminal attorney Rusty Hardin and Draycott's husband were all present at Thursday's press conference. But noticeably absent was Draycott. Hardin said she voluntarily checked herself in at an in-patient treatment center, that she's been diagnosed with clinical depression and associated problems with alcohol.

Hardin described Draycott as depressed, embarrassed and humiliated by the situation. Draycott was in court earlier this week, accused of shoplifting a DVD player and two DVDs, along with a bag of ice at a local Wal-Mart. The value of those items was about $200.

Draycott works at Station 54 near Bush Airport. It's there last year where she and another female firefighter made allegations of sexism and racism. Graffiti was on the walls of the female locker room and a photo of Draycott's dead daughter was defaced. That case drew a lot of attention and an investigation, which has not resulted in any disciplinary action.

Hardin talked to reporters, saying there is no reason to doubt the "official version" of what happened at the Wal-Mart.

"The real issue is not whether she did what she is accused doing but why," said Hardin. "And I don't think there is any secret that this lady has gone through a tremendously difficult time."

Hardin also said that the theft case can hardly be connected to the allegations she's made against the fire department.

"That helped create the emotional state she was in, that this trigger with what happened with her daughter's case set off," he said. "Otherwise, it doesn't have a thing to do with it.

In fact, Draycott's husband, HPD Officer Jason Draycott, says she's struggled emotionally ever since her daughter, Amanda Franklin, was killed along with two others in an Arizona wreck in 2006. She found out Monday that the driver accused of causing the wreck, Justin Draper, would possibly not end up going to prison.

Hardin says Draycott apparently "went off the deep end" when she heard the news.

"She felt like this was something very, very important to her," Jason Draycott added.

The district attorney's office will not comment on what Draycott's attorney and husband said during the press conference.

Draycott is due in court on the theft charge Tuesday. Her attorney says they will never deny that she committed the crime.

Meantime, in a hearing in Arizona, we've learned that Draper struck a deal and pleaded guilty to three counts of negligent homicide, each punishable by up to 3.75 years in prison. So he could face anywhere from probation to more than 11 years behind bars. That will be up to the judge. According to an official with the Maricopa County, Arizona, attorney's office, Draper was driving well over the 45mph speed limit when he hit the vehicle Draycott's daughter and two others were in.

As for the allegations Draycott made at HFD, they are still being investigated by the Equal Opportunity Commission. No criminal charges were ever filed in the case.

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