Lawyers for missing kid’s mom won’t detail competency dispute - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

Lawyers for missing kid’s mom won’t detail competency dispute

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Posted: Saturday, August 21, 2010 3:00 pm

It’s been more than a week since two court-appointed doctors released their findings in a report that determined the mother of missing Baby Gabriel Johnson is competent to stand trial, but her attorneys still do not want to comment on why they contend she is not.

However, the missing baby’s mother, Elizabeth Johnson, knows what she’s doing and needs to start accepting responsibilities for her actions, according to her grandfather, Robert Johnson of Scottsdale.

Elizabeth Johnson, 24, of Tempe is being held in Maricopa County’s 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 with the disappearance of her son, who was 5 months old at the time he was last seen on Dec. 26, and now is 1 year and 3 months old.

In the midst of a custody battle with her estranged boyfriend and father of the baby, Logan McQueary of Gilbert, Johnson drove to San Antonio with her son in mid-December. On Dec. 27, Johnson told McQueary via text message and telephone call that she killed Gabriel, stuffed his body in a diaper bag and threw it in a trash container, according to court documents.

When she was arrested on Dec. 30 in Miami Beach, Fla., Johnson told authorities that she gave Gabriel to a couple in the parking lot of a motel she was staying at in San Antonio a day after meeting them in a park there.

Johnson has refused to tell authorities the whereabouts of Gabriel and has refused to answer a judge’s questions in Mariciopa County Superior Court family court about the child’s whereabouts and well-being.

She could be found in contempt of court, pending the outcome of Maricopa County Superior Court commissioner’s decision on her level of competency expected to be ruled on Sept. 27.

In San Antonio, police claim they are continuing to investigate Gabriel’s disappearance as both a homicide and a missing persons case, but no photographs of Gabriel are listed on the police department’s missing persons website.

Johnson’s attorney’s Nick Alcock and Adam Feldman said they have read the report about Johnson that includes her psychological evaluation, but have to discuss it further before they comment on it.

In a recent proceeding in the criminal case involving Gabriel’s disappearance, Johnson thought she was going to get out of jail, her grandfather said.

“Elizabeth’s attorney had her convinced that the charges were going to be dropped because of some kind of procedural error on the prosecution so her grandmother paid the attorney $50,000 thinking the charges were going to get dropped,” Johnson said after last week’s court hearing, referring to Elizabeth’s maternal grandmother, Sylvia Puckett.

“Elizabeth was all happy, smiling and in good spirits, thinking she was going to get out of jail, but that didn’t happen,” he said. “She went back to acting like her old self.

“She needs to realize that if she’s ever going to get out of jail, she needs to tell authorities what she did with that baby. She must like staying in jail.”

Puckett could not be reached for comment.

For the second time this year, Johnson currently has restrictions placed on her jail visitation rights because of behavioral issues, but the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office refused to say why.

Tammi Peters Smith, 38, who was interested in adopting Gabriel, still is facing charges of forgery and conspiracy to commit custodial interference. Smith and her husband Jack Smith were interested in adopting Gabriel, but McQueary said he did not want to sign the paperwork to give up custody of his son.

During a recorded jailhouse phone call between Johnson and Tammi Smith early in the case, Smith told Johnson that she was going to sue her for “ruining her life,” but Johnson implicated Smith by telling her over the phone that she was the one who set the deal up for the couple to pick up Gabriel and was the one who knew them.

Smith has denied Johnson’s claims that she brokered an adoption deal for Johnson, but Tempe police believed that the Smiths had a plan in place or were organizing a plan to get custody of Gabriel and possibly pick him up in Tennessee.

Smith is scheduled to appear in court with Johnson on Sept. 27.

“I have no fear of the charges,” Smith said. “Elizabeth knows what she was saying is a lie, and she was doing it for a reason. I know I am completely innocent.”

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