“If alive, missing “Baby Gabriel” Johnson wouldn’t be a baby anymore.
In fact, the Tempe boy, who was 7 months old when he disappeared, would now be a walking, talking toddler two years after his mother, Elizabeth Johnson, took him to San Antonio while in the midst of a custody battle.
Johnson, 25, who said that she killed her son only to later say that she had not killed him, but had given him to a couple she didn’t know, is waiting to stand trial after doctors deemed her competent in December.
Since early 2010, Johnson has been incarcerated in the Maricopa County Estrella Jail on a $1.1 million cash bond on charges of kidnapping, child abuse, custodial interference and conspiracy to commit custodial interference in connection to Gabriel’s disappearance. He was last seen at a Homegate Inn and Suites Motel in San Antonio on Dec. 27, 2009.
Tammi Smith, 39, of Scottsdale, the woman who was interested in adopting Gabriel, will be tried with Johnson — a trial tentatively scheduled to begin in February. Smith has been charged with forgery, custodial interference and conspiracy to commit custodial interference in connection to the case. Authorities have maintained that Smith was not only researching possibilities to adopt Gabriel, but how to adopt an adult — Johnson — so she could obtain custody of Johnson’s child.
Murder charges against Johnson coming from San Antonio seem unlikely at this time and a hearing is scheduled in Maricopa County Superior Court on Friday when Johnson’s latest attorneys are expected to support Judge Paul McMurdie’s decision that Johnson is mentally competent to stand trial.
CNN Headline News’ Nancy Grace Show has billed the Elizabeth Johnson trial in its top four trials the show will be following in 2012.
If convicted on all the charges, Johnson could face a sentence ranging from nine months in jail to 20 years in prison, according to information from prosecutors.
But the child’s father, Logan McQueary, formerly of Gilbert and now living out of state in an attempt to move forward with his life, has resigned himself to what forensic experts have believed all along: that Johnson, as she initially told McQueary during a chilling phone call on Dec. 27, 2009, suffocated Gabriel and stuck his “little blue body” in a diaper bag before tossing it into a Dumpster.
Meanwhile, Johnson’s grandfather, Robert Johnson, believes that his granddaughter has “come as clean as she can,” and did not kill Gabriel.
“I don’t think she harmed the child,” Robert Johnson said. “I think she did what she said she did in the park that day in San Antonio: She gave Gabriel away and doesn’t know who she gave him to.”
Well grandpa, she might just as well have murdered her little boy if she was just going to hand him to strangers in a park. Not much difference.
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