Tyler salon owner sentenced to 18 years in prison

Published: Aug. 31, 2012 at 2:49 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2012 at 6:49 PM CDT
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Needles and syringes collected at Queen Divas Salon.
Needles and syringes collected at Queen Divas Salon.

The East Texas salon owner who plead guilty to giving women illegal cosmetic breast injections, was sentenced to 18 years in prison Friday.

Carmel Foster, who owns Queen Diva's Salon, pleaded guilty last month to two counts of practicing medicine without a license. She was arrested back in February after a woman became extremely ill from her breast injections.

In court Friday, a victim, Sheena Bradford testified.

"She stabbed me with the needle and then it was just dangling on my breast until she got the syringe and injected the fluid into the syringe and attached the syringe into the needle," Bradford said.

Prosecutor Richard Vance showed Judge Russell those needles and syringes. The objects were taken into evidence after Tyler Police executed a search warrant on Carmel Foster's north Tyler salon, Queen Divas.

"She told me not to hyperventilate and just to think about how big and pretty my breasts would be when she got through," Bradford said.

But according to Tyler Police, the procedure left Bradford in a Longview hospital for days with her loved ones praying she'd make it through.

"She was fighting for her life. They didn't know if she was going to make it," said Sheena's friend Devora Templeton.

"I had chest tubes coming out of my sides," Sheena told the court.

On the phone from jail, Foster told us the procedures were what the women wanted/

"It's a group of women that come together where you can go online and say if you want to do self-cosmetics... If you want to make yourself look beautiful," Foster said.

"Your honor, it does disgust me and it bothers me to see her have the audacity to tell this court that she's in the business of making women feel pretty," said prosecutor Richard Vance.

Foster's attorney O.W. Loyd asked for the minimum sentence, arguing Foster didn't take advantage of anyone.

"These are people that went in willing... requested that the same thing be done.. had known about it. If nothing else, you can derive from the testimony, [they] had known about this sort of thing going on all over the place," Loyd said.

Smith County 7th District Court Judge Kerry Russell sentenced Foster to eight years on one of those charges and 10 years on the other charge. Judge Russell also granted the State's motion for Foster to serve those sentences consecutively, instead of concurrently.

Foster is also ordered to pay $20,000 in fines and $9,270.31 in restitution.

Below is are details updates from the courtroom proceeding KLTV reporter Melanie Torre wrote while the hearing was taking place:

Before Foster's sentencing begins some matters are taken up before Judge Kerry Russell.

Foster's attorney says Foster has told him she wishes to change her "guilty" plea. Foster sent a series of letters to the court saying that she was not guilty despite pleading guilty. Today in court Foster decided to keep her guilty plea but asks the court to consider her other letters addressing issues different than her change of plea.

Sentencing begins.

State calls first witness detective Andy Erbaugh, Tyler Police detective who investigated Foster's case. Erbaugh shows the court pictures of the victim, Sheena Bradford in the hospital.

Erbaugh tells the court he executed a search warrant on Foster's salon Queen Divas back in February.

He says he found numerous unopened syringes, a container with a clear substance in it, a blue syringe with a clear substance in it and super glue. Erbaugh says he took the blue syringe as a couple of other items from the salon. Erbaugh says at one point he took the syringe back to the hospital so doctors could try to determine what substance was in the victim's breast.

State opens evidence bags to reveal the needles and syringes collected at Queen Divas salon.

Sate passes the witness.

Defense questions detective Erbaugh about the other people he spoke to during this case and if he ever asked those people if they gave the injections as well as received them. Erbaugh says he did not ask others if they gave injections. Erbaugh testifies that he did not see any licenses or certifications for nursing or practicing medicine in the salon.

Defense asks Erbaugh about some of the "dangerous" chemicals and substances found in the salon. Defense asks Erbaugh if it'd surprise him to know some of those chemicals are found in Chicken McNuggets. Erbaugh replies, "It wouldn't surprise me to hear what was in chicken McNuggets."

Defense passes the witness.

State goes over the money victims say they paid to Foster for the breast enhancements. State shows the court a photo of a car he says is Foster's Mercedes. "So I guess business was good," says prosecutor Richard Vance.

State calls Sheena Bradford to the stand. Bradford begins to explain arriving at Queen Divas Salon, paying Foster and Foster giving her the injections. Bradford says she paid $800. She says the pain was so bad she began hyperventilating. After about 20 injections, Sheena says the substance started leaking out of her breasts through the hole the needle made. She says Foster plugged the hole by super gluing cotton balls to her breasts. Sheena talks about feeling very ill that night and being in horrible pain. Sheena says she was admitted to the hospital where tubes were put in her lungs and slits were made in her breasts to try to drain the substance from her breasts. Sheena talks about how scary the ordeal was. State asks Sheena if she and her girlfriend got in a fight causing Sheena injuries. Sheena says no. The state asks this question because in the past Foster has claimed Sheena was only in the hospital because Sheena's girlfriend allegedly beat her up. Sheena says none of that is true.

State passes the witness.

Sheena tells the court she is a certified nurses assistant. The defense attorney, OW Loyd, asks Sheena if she'd been looking for somewhere to get her breasts enhanced. Sheena says she'd discussed it with friends but never pursued the augmentations until her friend suggested going to see Carmel Foster. Sheena says her friend had the procedure done at least a week before she did. Defense asks if Sheena had researched these cosmetic parties. Sheena says she know nothing about cosmetic parties and has never been to one. She says she only learned about the cosmetic parties from hearing Foster talk about them on the news. Sheena says she was under the impression Foster was a nurse who moved to Tyler from Houston.

Defense attorney asks Sheena about her relationship with her girlfriend, Devora Templeton. He asks how Devora felt about Sheena getting the breast injections. Sheena says Devora did not approve of her getting the injections and that she didn't know Sheena was getting the injections until they were done. Defense asks if Devora hit Sheena because of the breast injections. Sheena says Devora has never hit her ever for any reason.

Defense passes the witness.

State asks Sheena if the only person who has caused her physical harm and ever put her in the hospital is Carmel Foster. Sheena replies, yes.

State calls next witness, Sheena's girlfriend Devora Templeton.

State asks Devora straight out if she ever beat up Sheena because of these breast injections. Devora says no. Devora tells the court about the doctors trying to help Sheena and what poor condition Sheena was in. Devora says Foster called the hospital multiple times and Devora asked Foster to tell the doctors what the substance was so they could help Sheena. Devora says for a while Foster denied giving the injections and said her friend gave them. Then eventually Foster told Devora the substance was saline and water, Devora tells the court. Devora testifies that she lied to Foster saying shed protect Foster from the police because she was trying to get Foster to tell her what the injection substance was.

Recess until 1:30 for lunch.

Kenya Shepherd takes the stand. Kenya is Sheena's friend who referred her to Foster. Kenya gives the court a detailed description of the procedure Foster performed on her. Kenya talks about how painful it was. Kenya says she paid Foster $600. Kenya says she was present for Sheena's procedure and it seemed to be similar to her procedure on Foster's part, but she says Sheena's body reacted differently. Kenya says her procedure resulted in a bad rash on her chest, back and up her neck. Kenya says she spent a few days in the hospital.

Kenya says she was the first person to tell Foster that Sheena was in the hospital. Kenya says Foster told her she never meant to hurt Sheena. Kenya says Foster told her the injection substance was a saline based gel.

State passes the witness.

Kenya tells the court she'd heard about cosmetic parties and Carmel Foster from women she worked with in Longview.

State calls Thelma Cantu, Sheena Bradford's mother to the stand.

State asks if Foster was ever willing to give doctors the information they needed to save Sheena's life. Thelma says no. Thelma says her priority was never getting Foster in trouble, it was always saving Sheena's life.

Thelma says she is a nurse's assistant, too. The state asks her what kind of car she drives. She says a 2004 Ford Focus. The state asks how it makes her feel to know Carmel Foster did what she did to Sheena and drives around in "her sport little Mercedes." Thelma replies it makes her upset but she deals with it.

State passes the witness.

Defense asks Thelma if Sheena is in a volatile relationship with Devora. Thelma says she doesn't know the specifics of Sheena's relationship.

State rests. Foster's attorney asks Judge Russell for 5 minutes before calling his witnesses.

Defense rests.

Foster is sentenced to eight years and a fine of $10,000 on one of two charges.

On the second charge, Foster is sentenced to ten years, a $10,000 fine and is ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $9,270.31.

The two terms will be served consecutively, meaning Foster will have to serve one term before beginning the second term.

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