By Holbrook Mohr/Associated Press
JACKSON – A federal prosecutor said Monday that a former University of Alabama basketball player won’t be tried at the same time as his mother on charges of conspiring to kidnap a 6-year-old girl.
Trial was scheduled to begin Monday for both Jesse Mae Brown Pollard and her son, Devonta Pollard, but he wasn’t in the courtroom during jury selection in U.S. District Court in Jackson.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dowdy told The Associated Press during a break that Devonta Pollard’s trial was severed from his mother’s and continued until a later date. Dowdy had no other comment.
Devonta Pollard is now listed as a government witness in the case.
Devonta Pollard’s lawyer, Lisa Ross, said Monday that she and prosecutors are trying to resolve the case against him. She had no other comment.
The Pollards are charged with conspiring to kidnap the girl from East Kemper Elementary School on April 30. She was dropped off unharmed the next day.
Both maintain their innocence.
The child was taken from the 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 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, Ala., 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, Ala., to pick up another conspirator when that woman’s car broke down on the way to get the child in Bessemer, Ala. 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.