Carlee Russell, the Alabama woman who mysteriously disappeared for two days in July and later admitted she was not kidnapped, was found guilty of two misdemeanors Wednesday.
Russell, 26, made national headlines and sparked a widespread search after she allegedly told police she had been kidnapped and held captive. On the night of July 13, Russell called She called 911 and said she saw a toddler running on a busy highway in Hoover. She also called a relative who said they heard her screaming. When police arrived, they found her car parked on the side of the road but still running, with her purse on the seat and her phone and wig nearby. When they searched the area, they couldn’t find her or any child.
Russell returned home on foot 49 hours later, he told investigators she had escaped According to authorities, two kidnappers ran through the woods toward her home. But in a July 28 statement from her lawyer, she said admitted that she made up the whole story and apologized to the investigators and volunteers who searched for her and made her disappearance public, asking for their “forgiveness and prayers.”
Russell was charged July 28 with two offenses ― false reporting to law enforcement and false reporting of an incident – and pleaded not guilty.
The city judge who found her guilty at a hearing Wednesday recommended she serve a year in prison and pay $17,874 in restitution and additional fines of $831 each. AL.com reported.
Russell plans to appeal the ruling, her attorney Emory Anthony said said outside the courthouse, adding that the prison sentence was not appropriate for the crimes she was charged with. An appeal would result in the case being tried in state court, where Russell would have to face a jury.
In Announcement of the indictment In July, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said: “We do not view this as a victimless crime. There are significant ones [law enforcement] Hours spent, resources spent as a result of this investigation. And not only that, but the many men and women who are civilians wore those yellow vests on a hot afternoon and evening, looking for someone they thought had been kidnapped and trying to help.”
“Their decisions that night caused panic and concern among citizens of our city and even across the country as concerns grew that a kidnapper was on the loose and using a young child as bait,” said Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis , at this press conference.
Russell has not provided an explanation for her disappearance since her original report to investigators, who pointed to a Number of inconsistencies in their history.
“I don’t want her to have a breakdown,” Anthony said Wednesday. “So we treat her with kid gloves and make sure she’s mentally okay.”
Russell’s attorney criticized authorities for their lack of compassion in pursuing the case.
“You know the young lady wasn’t out on a whim,” he said.
Russell’s lawyers did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.