The lawyers of a Scottsdale woman who allegedly discussed adopting the young mother of a baby boy as a way to gain custody of the child say that if the allegations were true, those conversations are legal.
Tammi Smith, 38, wanted to adopt Gabriel Johnson and his 24-year-old mother, Elizabeth Johnson, of Tempe, and also discussed seeking a change of venue in the custody case to Tennessee, Maricopa County prosecutors claim.
Gabriel has been missing since nearly a year ago, on Dec. 26, when he was spotted in San Antonio, Texas, with his mother. Johnson faces charges of kidnapping, child abuse, conspiracy to commit custodial interference and custodial interference.
Smith is accused of bullying the baby's father, Logan McQueary, into giving up his custodial rights, asking the judge in the custody case to help her gain guardianship and providing Johnson legal advice and assistance. She faces charges of conspiracy to commit custodial interference and forgery.
Prosecutors say that Smith's discussions over adopting Johnson as a way to gain custody of the baby may show the lengths she would go to adopt Gabriel. They are also accusing Smith and Johnson of talking about using child-support payments to pressure McQueary into surrendering his parental rights, according to the Arizona Republic.
But Smith's lawyers filed a defense motion Dec. 1 saying that "the discussion of an adult adoption or a change of venue ... cannot be made criminal under a vague conspiracy law."
Plea talks are no longer continuing for Smith, her attorney said. Johnson's motion to dismiss the case has not yet been heard.
A status conference on the case is scheduled for Thursday.