Alabama College Basketball Player Arrested for Kidnapping
TUSCALOOSA, Alabama -- Alabama basketball player Devonta Pollard, who was arrested Tuesday on a charge of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, delivered tools and served as a driver for one of the six other suspects accused of orchestrating the kidnapping of a 6-year-old girl, according to a grand jury indictment filed last week in a Mississippi U.S. District Court.
Pollard, 18, was one of six individuals arraigned today at the federal courthouse in Jackson, Miss. Wanda Dancy, Shamarius Ruffin, Shaquayla Johnigan, Joyce Johnigan and James Johnigan were also charged with conspiring to kidnap Jashayla Hopson on April 30 from her Kemper County elementary school.
Pollard's mother, Jesse Mae Pollard -- who remains in federal custody after she was charged with the kidnapping last month -- will be arraigned at a later date. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $750,000 fine.
Devonta Pollard and the five other suspects face a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a $250,000 fine.
A trial date has been set for Aug. 6.
According to the indictment, Devonta Pollard delivered a screwdriver and a wrench to his mother and Ruffin on the morning of April 30 at a church parking lot in Bessemer. While there, Ruffin told Devonta Pollard "we fixin to do some crazy shit."
Shortly thereafter, Ruffin and Jesse Mae Pollard drove to Hopson's Kemper County elementary school. With the assistance of Dancy, who was a secretary at the school, Ruffin and Jesse Mae Pollard plucked Hopson out of the school's library and drove off with her.
Later in the day, Devonta Pollard drove to Boligee, Ala., to pick up Shaquayla Johnigan. When Johnigan entered the car, Devonta Pollard told her that his mother had "took" Hopson. Johnigan and Pollard then drove to a hotel in Bessemer to meet up with his mother.
It was at this point when Jesse Mae Pollard surrendered the girl to Johnigan, who drove off with her in Jesse Mae Pollard's rental car to a hotel in Laurel, Miss.
Around 11 p.m. that night, Jesse Mae Pollard instructed Johnigan to send a text message to Hopson's mother from a cell phone Jesse Mae Pollard had purchased earlier in the day. It read: "since you called police, I want $50,000 by 3 p.m., I will tell you location later."
The next day, Devonta Pollard called Johnigan to tell her his mother was "gone to take a polygraph." Johnigan then met up with Joyce Johnigan in Vossburg, Miss., and drove to a remote location near Enterprise, Miss., where they dropped off the girl, who was physically unharmed, at the side of the road.
Later that day, FBI agents searched Devonta Pollard's car. Found inside were a receipt for the phone that was identified as the one used to send text messages to Hopson's mother and a key card for the Bessemer hotel room.
Jesse Mae Pollard called Shaquayla Johnigan and instructed her to drive the rental car to the University of Southern Mississippi's campus in Hattiesburg and abandon it. Instead, Johnigan and Joyce Johnigan drove it into Jasper County (Miss.) ditch and threw the keys in a nearby pond.
One day later, Jesse Mae Pollard was arrested and charged with Hopson's kidnapping.
Devonta Pollard, a five-star recruit from Porterville, Miss., played in 36 games during his freshman season, starting eight, and averaged 3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. According to the Tuscaloosa News, he had not been working out with the team since the kidnapping and was mulling a transfer to East Mississippi Community College.
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