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Kidnapping suspect tells jury she was trying to help first-grader

A woman accused of kidnapping a boy from Mackey Elementary School to make a point about school safety testified today that she was only trying to help him.

Laurinda Drake, 41, told a District Court jury that she never meant to imprison or detain the first-grader when she picked him up Sept. 8 near the school in North Las Vegas.

Drake said she was concerned for the boy’s safety and wanted to return him to his parents.

She didn’t take him back to the school because she had a “gut feeling” that returning him there would endanger him.

“I was trying to help the child,” she said.

Drake testified during the second day of her trial. She is facing charges of first-degree kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and luring a child.

Drake, whose son attended Mackey at the time of the incident, spoke softly but clearly. She said she was nervous about taking the stand.

Prosecutors said Drake snatched the boy from the street near the school, near Commerce Street and Carey Avenue.

The boy had wandered off of school grounds without school officials knowing.

After she picked up the boy, Drake drove him to the home of Elaine Clermont, a close friend who also had a child attending Mackey.

Clermont, 41, was known to school officials as a gadfly. She is facing the same charges as Drake and is scheduled to go to trial next month.

The pair called school officials to alert them that they had the child.

But Drake told the jury she didn’t want to return him to Mackey because she didn’t feel right about it.

Instead, she returned him to a school district headquarters about 90 minutes after she picked him up.

During that time, Clermont had called news media outlets about the incident.

During her testimony, Drake maintained that she was only trying to help the boy.

“I didn’t think I had done anything wrong,” she said.

 

Contact reporter David Kihara at dkihara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

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