By Holbrook Mohr/The Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. — Trial is scheduled to begin today for a Mississippi woman and her son, a former University of Alabama basketball player, both charged with conspiring to kidnap a 6-year-old girl from school.
Jesse Mae Brown Pollard has filed court documents saying she plans to use an insanity defense during the trial in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Miss. She is expected to argue that she was insane at the time of the abduction.
“Ms. Pollard continues to maintain her innocence, and we are diligently preparing for trial,” her lawyer, Abby Brumley, said in an email.
Federal prosecutors filed a motion Thursday that seeks to block Jesse Pollard from using insanity as a defense. The document cited a July 26 Federal Bureau of Prisons report that said Jesse Pollard underwent an evaluation that found she “was not suffering from a mental disease or defect which would render her unable to appreciate the nature, quality and wrongfulness of her alleged offensive behavior.”
Lisa Ross, attorney for Pollard’s son, Devonta Pollard, said her client didn’t conspire to kidnap anyone.
The child was taken from East Kemper Elementary School in the Kemper County community of Scooba on April 30 and was dropped off unharmed near a stranger’s mobile home on a rural Mississippi road the next day.
Authorities say Jesse Pollard planned the abduction to pressure her cousin, the child’s mother, in a dispute over land, though details of the fight were not spelled out in court records.
Five people pleaded guilty in the case on Nov. 6. They include a school secretary charged with telling Jesse Pollard where to find the child that day: in the school library.
Court records and testimony in previous hearings allege a complicated scheme in which the child was taken from the school to a hotel in Bessemer, then moved to a hotel in Laurel, Miss.
She was dropped off near Enterprise, Miss., the next day, after a missing-child alert had been issued, prosecutors say.
In addition to allegations of planning the abduction and enlisting the help of others, Jesse Pollard is accused of sending a text message to the child’s mother: “don’t call the police I will call you later if you call the police u won’t see her again.”
For his part, prosecutors say Devonta Pollard drove to Boligee to pick up another conspirator when that woman’s car broke down on the way to get the child in Bessemer. The next day, prosecutors say Devonta Pollard called the same woman to tell her that his mother “had gone to take a polygraph.”
The child was dropped off later that day.