A 33-year-old Tennessee woman who moved into a large mansion in the Shady Grove neighborhood of Memphis last month with her six young children is facing charges of burglary, theft and trespassing. Tabitha Gentry, who goes by Abka Re Bey, says she is a citizen of the Moorish American National Republic and that she is 'a heir' to the $3 million four-acre property because the group does not recognize state or federal law.
“I have a lawful, legal claim,” Gentry said while in court. “I am the heir to this massive estate. They locked me up unlawfully.” Gentry did file papers with the Shelby County Register’s Office before she moved into the property.
The judge in the case, Loyce Lambert-Ryan, complimented Gentry on her questioning of law enforcement officers and a representative of the bank that owns the 10,000-square-foot mansion. Judge Lambert-Ryan went on to explain that her interpretation of the law was not correct, The Daily Mail reported.
“Even though you felt you had done all that was required and sent notices to the bank that you were taking the property, the laws of the state of Tennessee do not recognize those beliefs,” Lambert-Ryan said. “You’re not an heir apparent because you claim to be a Moorish National.”
Gentry represented herself in court. After her appearance, her bond was lowered to $50,000 from $2 million.
When Gentry took control of the estate, the property's front gate was chained shut and signs were put up saying “Keep Out/Private Property.” A flag saying “Moorish American National Republic” was also put up.
Neighborhood residents had different reactions to the occupation. “I know the two former owners,” said neighbor David Peck. “And I knew the house was on the market, but I've never heard of anything like this.”
Neighbor Vallie Jo Bell said: “We were just really surprised. I hope they'll get out and maybe find another place to live.”