An Alabama woman who admitted to faking her own abduction after stopping to check on a toddler on the side of a highway is appealing her conviction in an effort to avoid a yearlong prison sentence recommended by prosecutors.
Hoover Municipal Court Judge Thomas Brad Bishop found Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell guilty Wednesday on misdemeanor charges of filing a false report with law enforcement and falsely reporting an incident. State prosecutors are seeking a one-year jail sentence and restitution of $17,974.
The 25-year-old Russell gained national attention when reports surfaced that she was abducted in an elaborate story that included being captured several times.
Russell disappeared on July 13 after calling police to report a child walking alone on Interstate 459. After disconnecting with the dispatcher, Russell contacted a family member who said they heard Russell scream before losing contact with her.
She returned home two days later and told police that she had been forced into a 18-wheeler and abducted. She then claimed she was able to escape before being captured again and taken to a house where she was blindfolded and forced to get undressed. As the story goes, Russell said she woke up the next day and was fed cheese crackers by a female who was accompanying her male abductor.
Prior to allegedly being abducted, police revealed that Russell's financial records showed that she had purchased cheese crackers and granola bars. Authorities also said Russell searched terms like "do you have to pay for an Amber Alert" before going missing.
Furthermore, there was no evidence that a toddler was ever walking down the side of the highway and there were no missing children reports at the time.
Days later, police in Hoover, Alabama, held a press conference to update the public on their investigation and read a statement from Russell's attorney describing how his client had lied to police.
"We know by her own admission that it didn't happen," Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said.
Russell's attorney Richard Jaffe said he doesn't believe jail time is necessary, and has agreed to an arrangement where Russell acknowledges all evidence against her, pleads guilty, and then the case can be appealed to a circuit court where proceedings will restart from the beginning.
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