Woman at center of Amber Alert case appears in court, derides defense attorneys as ‘public pretenders’

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INDIANAPOLIS (March 9, 2015) – The half-sister of two teenagers whose abduction prompted an Amber Alert last week appeared in court Monday. Whitney Blackwell sat before a judge in a conspiracy to commit dealing cocaine case. The judge entered a not guilty plea on her behalf.

Blackwell’s siblings—16-year-old Aaron Blackwell and 13-year-old Emma Blackwell—were abducted at gunpoint from their east side home last week as part of a dispute over drugs. The kidnapping set off an Amber Alert. Blackwell admitted she stole money from a Detroit drug racket although the exact amount is in dispute. The theft led to the abduction plot, police said.

In court, Blackwell told the judge she’s 27 years old with a ninth-grade education and a 6-year-old son. Blackwell said the state took custody of him last week after she was arrested and told the court she was the boy’s sole caretaker.

According to Blackwell, she made $300 a week as a dancer at a Detroit club and has a “house in the ghetto in Detroit” that her ex-boyfriend bought for her. She said repeatedly that she couldn’t hire an attorney because she’s in jail and told the judge, “Well, I guess I could get one of them public pretenders.”

The judge admonished her for the comment, telling her that public defenders are court-appointed attorneys and that the adjective Blackwell used was inappropriate.

She’s being held on $250,000 surety bond plus $20,000 cash. If Blackwell posts bond, she’ll have to wear a GPS monitor. A trial date is set for July 22.

Blackwell's brother, Stanley Pernell, also faces charges in the case. Six people face federal charges in connection with the kidnapping plot.