Judge rules lighter sentence in federal kidnapping scandal - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Judge hands out lighter sentences in federal kidnapping case

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Five people a federal judge labeled as "high class" received a lighter sentence in a federal kidnapping case. Those people were sentenced Wednesday for their involvement in a Kemper County kidnapping scandal where a young girl was kidnapped from school.

Before the sentencing Judge William Barbour told the victim's mother, he hopes she can receive a level of forgiveness. He said normal kidnapping guidelines are harsh and he would not apply them to this case.

Victim Jashayla Hopson and her mother left federal court after hearing the sentencing for five people who were involved in taking her from East Kemper Elementary School last April. Her kidnapping came during a family land dispute.

Shaquayla Johnigan, Wanda Dancy and Shamarius Ruffin were sentenced to one year and one day behind bars with three years supervised release following their release.

James and Joyce Johnigan will only serve eight months behind bars with one year of supervised release. All five people must pay $1,400 in restitution and are ordered to report to prison March 10, 2014 at 10 a.m.

Shaquayla Johnigan and Ruffin have already served eight months, so that time will count towards their sentence.

"Ms. Ruffin is naturally satisfied with the judge's ruling and the sentence," said her attorney Bryant Guy. "Of course she is extremely remorseful for her involvement in this matter and if circumstances were different would never have got involved in this matter in the first place."

During the sentencing Judge Barbour told defendants, normally kidnapping cases carry a very high sentence, but this is not the normal type of case he deals with.

He told defendants they are high class citizens who are involved in church and devoted to their families. He continued saying, although he does not condone their actions, he had to do what was fair.

After being kidnapped for 24 hours, young Jashayla Hopson was dropped off in the pouring rain in front of a stranger's house in Lauderdale County by her kidnapper.

Judge Barbour says he does have sympathy for the victim's mother, but the child was not injured. Therefore, he must not sentence the co-conspirators to normal kidnapping guidelines.

The mastermind in this case, Jesse Mae Pollard, remains behind bars and will be sentenced next month in federal court. Her son, Devonta Pollard, was deferred prosecution because he testified against his mother in this case.

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