The woman accused of abducting a 4-year-old boy in Atascadero said in a videoconference arraignment Tuesday that she was a “CIA agent” who was trying to protect the child.
Annette Hale, 52, appeared from County Jail on a video feed to a room at San Luis Obispo Superior Court. She requested to “state my case” after Judge John Trice asked whether she wanted an attorney to represent her.
Hale is formally charged with one count of felony kidnapping with the enhanced penalty of taking a child younger than 14, as well as a second count of felony child endangerment. She remains in jail in lieu of posting $1 million bail.
Hale is accused of kidnapping Jeremy Guthrie from the El Camino Homeless Organization shelter early Friday morning.
The boy was found after a massive 12-hour search that involved scores of volunteers and law enforcement officials.
Hale is believed to have made a call to police alerting them that the boy was in a vacant car dealership, where police found him after 5 p.m. He was then returned unharmed to his mother, LaToya Logan.
Hale, who appeared on the video screen wearing glasses and a red County Jail jumpsuit, said she was “guilty with an explanation” and told Trice that she took the boy because Logan wasn’t his real mother.
“I am a CIA agent,” Hale said. “The boy was kidnapped by the mother.”
Hale also made a comment about an investigation she was conducting of a building — presumably the vacant dealership where the boy was found. Trice told Hale she needed to speak with an attorney from the public defender’s office about the things she was saying, and she agreed to be appointed legal counsel.
The court schedule was full Tuesday, so Hale was arraigned by videoconference to meet the legal requirements that defendants be told charges within 48 hours of their arrest. Hale is scheduled to be arraigned in person today at 8:30 a.m. in Trice’s court.
Hale’s daughter, Sara Fowler, told The Tribune on Monday that her mother has been dealing with mental illness for more than 20 years. Fowler called her “delusional” and said she needs mental health assistance and not a prison term.
Fowler said she had tried helping her mother, who hasn’t been able to hold down housing and who saw her daughter as a threat.