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June 4, 2013

Pollard charged in kidnapping case

Devonta Pollard, a forward on the University of Alabama basketball team, was charged Tuesday as part of a kidnapping for which his mother was arrested last month.

Sheriff James Moore of Kemper (Miss.) County confirmed on Tuesday that Pollard faces one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping in the April 30 abduction of Jashayla Hopson. Pollard and Joyce Johnigan were arrested in Kemper County on Tuesday, Moore said. A third suspect, identified by a Meridian television station as Shaquayla Johnigan, was arrested in Hattiesburg, Miss., making a total of six arrests in the case.

The other defendants are Wanda Dancy, Shamarius Ruffin and Pollard's mother, Jesse Mae Brown Pollard.

Devonta Pollard had not been working out with the UA basketball team in the offseason and was reportedly contemplating a transfer to East Mississippi Community College near his Scooba home after his mother's arrest.

UA coach Anthony Grant was not immediately available for comment. Asked about Pollard last week at the SEC meetings in Destin, Fla., Grant said that Pollard was still a member of the team but was "dealing with issues bigger than basketball."

Jesse Mae Brown Pollard was accused of kidnapping Jashayla, 6, from her elementary school in Scooba, Miss. on April 30.

The former teacher recently moved to Northport from Porterville, Miss., to be near her son, according to the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger.

Jesse Mae Brown Pollard had been involved in a argument with the girl's mother, according to court records. Media reports from Mississippi indicated that the women were cousins.

Jashayla's parents called police when she was not on the bus the afternoon of April 30.

FBI agents traced a text message and hang-up call to a phone Jesse Mae Brown Pollard was videotaped buying in Bessemer that afternoon. Surveillance video from the Bessemer Best Western hotel captured the woman walking with the girl in a hallway and leaving in a gold or tan Cadillac Deville, according to court records.

FBI agents reported that the vehicle belonged to Devonta Pollard. They found the hotel key and a receipt for the cellphone in the car after searching it with his permission.

Staff writer Stephanie Taylor contributed to this report.


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