Carlee Russell, the Alabama woman who made up a story of seeing a toddler by the side of the road and then being kidnapped, was found guilty of misdemeanor counts Wednesday and plans to appeal, a court official said.
Hoover Municipal Judge Brad Bishop found Russell guilty of two counts related to the July hoax, Municipal Court Director Susan Fuqua said.
Russell, who has admitted that she lied about the kidnapping and the toddler, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in court, she said.
Her attorneys stipulated an appeal before the verdict, Fuqua said.
Carlee Russell was found guilty of two misdemeanor charges in Hoover, Ala., on Wednesday.WVTM
The case will now go before Bessemer Circuit Court in Jefferson County.
“She has apologized for what transpired,” Russell’s attorney, Emory Anthony, told reporters Wednesday.
Anthony said that jail time was being sought, “which we totally disagree with,” and that with the appeal, the case will start anew in circuit court, NBC affiliate WVTM of Birmingham reported.
Anthony told NBC News later that Russell’s legal team disagreed with the plea offer and appealed it to the circuit court. WVTM reported that the judge’s decision was procedural, because a verdict is necessary for an appeal that takes it to that state court.
On July 13, Russell reported seeing a toddler in a diaper on the side of an interstate as she drove in Hoover, a city of around 92,000 south of Birmingham.
She then disappeared, and the large search for her captured national attention. She returned home two days later, on July 15, and said she’d been kidnapped and forced into an 18-wheeler.
A little more than a week later, Russell said in a statement through her attorney that she lied about being kidnapped and had never seen a toddler.
She was charged in July with misdemeanor counts of false reporting to law enforcement authorities and falsely reporting an incident.
Russell is free on bond. The sentence in municipal court was restitution of $17,974 and 120 days in jail on each of the two charges, Fuqua said. Her attorneys have requested a jury trial in the appeal to state court.
Diana Dasrath is entertainment producer and senior reporter for NBC News covering all platforms.
Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.