One of six individuals arraigned in a federal courthouse in Jackson, Mississippi, on conspiracy to commit kidnapping was Alabama basketball player Devonta Pollard. Pollard, who was a five-star recruit from Porterville, Mississippi, was arrested last week for conspiracy in the kidnapping case.
The indictment states that on April 30th, Devonta Pollard drove to a church parking lot in Bessemer and delivered a screwdriver and a wrench to his mother, Jesse Mae Pollard, and another co-conspirator, Shamarius Ruffin. Devonta’s mother and accomplice then drove to a Kemper County school, and with the assistance of the school’s secretary, Wanda Dancy, took Jashayla Hopson from the school’s library.
Later that same day, Devonta drove to Alabama, picked up Shaquayla Johnigan, and then drove to a Bessemer hotel to meet his mother. Johnigan, then took the child from Jesse Mae, and drove in Jesse Mae’s rental car to a Laurel, Miss. hotel. She was instructed by Jesse Mae to text the child’s mother from a recently purchased cell phone with a demand for $50,000.
Law enforcement officials, however, thwarted the kidnappers plans. The next day, Devonta called Johnigan to inform her that his mother was “gone to take a polygraph.” Johnigan and another conspirator, Joyce Johnigan, drove to a remote area in Mississippi and dropped the unharmed girl by the side of the road. Jesse Mae also called Johnigan later that day to instruct her to abandon the rental car at the University of Southern Mississippi.
FBI agents searched Devonta’s car and found not only the receipt for the cell phone that was identified as the one used to text Hopson’s mother, but the key card for the hotel room in Bessemer, too.
Jesse Mae Pollard was arrested the next day and charged with Hopson’s kidnapping. Devonta Pollard, Wanda Dancy, Shamarius Ruffin, Shaquayla Johnigan, Joyce Johnigan, and James Johnigan were all charged with conspiring to kidnap Jashayla Hopson. These suspects face a maximum penalty of five years in jail, as well as a maximum fine of $250,000.
Jesse Mae Pollard remains in federal custody and if convicted on the kidnapping charge, could receive a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $750,000 fine.
Kidnapping a person with the intent to hold him/her for a ransom or reward is considered kidnapping in the first degree and is a Class A felony in Alabama. When facing a charge of kidnapping, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to examine different strategies for building a strong defense against your charges.