Carlee Russell was found guilty by a municipal judge on Wednesday of falsely reporting her own kidnapping in Alabama this summer.
The ruling came after she pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of falsely reporting to law enforcement authorities and falsely reporting an incident, claiming to have seen a small child walking alone near a busy interstate.
Her legal team plans to appeal the verdict to a circuit court, where they will present their case in front of a jury.
The two charges, for which the 26-year-old nurse was convicted, each carried a maximum penalty of a year in jail, though the judge recommended she serve only one year in total. It was also recommended she pay nearly $18,000 in restitution.
Following the hearing, Russell’s attorney Emory Anthony said he disagrees with the recommended sentence, especially given this was Russell’s first offense.
“Restitution, we don’t disagree with that, but to lock her up and put her in jail? We disagree,” he said, per AL.com.
The bizarre incident that landed Russell in court attracted nationwide attention and prompted investigations over the summer.
Russell called 911 on July 13 to report seeing a toddler walking alone along Interstate 459 near Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham. Russell then made a second call to her sister-in-law, who said she heard screaming.
After going missing for two days, Russell returned home claiming to have been forced into a vehicle and abducted.
Police later revealed they had been suspicious of the story from the start, after discovering Russell had searched the internet for information about Amber alerts, bus tickets and the kidnapping film “Taken.”
She later confessed to police that the claim about the child had been fabricated, though her reason for telling that story still remains unclear.
When asked Wednesday why she did it, her attorney said the motive will eventually come to light.
“We’re dealing with issues with Carlee,” Anthony said, according to AL.com. “We realize a mistake was made, but we don’t want to just pile on right now.”
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