Tammi Smith was “a woman intent on adopting a baby at any cost,” whose complete disregard for the law “resulted in disaster,” prosecutor Elisa Ramuuno said in her opening statement Tuesday, telling the story of the tug of war that developed over little Baby Gabriel.
When he disappeared, Gabriel Johnson was seven months old, and his whereabouts are still a mystery. Smith is on trial for her alleged role in the baby’s disappearance. She is charged with forgery and conspiracy to commit custodial interference.
Defense attorney Anne Phillips told jurors this case is not about Baby Gabriel, but is instead about a relentless attack on Tammi Smith’s character by law enforcement agencies -- the persecution of a law-abiding citizen, business owner, and dedicated mom who tried only to help. Phillips promised that Smith will testify, and will be happy to answer any questions the jury may have for her. Arizona is one of the states that allows jurors to provide the judge questions to ask of witnesses.
Baby Gabriel’s father, Logan McQueary, took the stand as the prosecution’s first witness Tuesday. He testified that Smith and her husband tried to push him into giving up his right to Gabriel. He says that at one point -- when the Gabriel’s mother Elizabeth Johnson had taken the baby to San Antonio, Texas -- he was told she would only return to Arizona with Gabriel if he signed papers allowing the Smiths to adopt the baby.
On Wednesday, Phillips will continue cross-examining McQueary. When court reconvenes at 1:30 p.m. ET, we expect to hear the audio tape of a custody hearing from December 17, 2009. Prosecutors are then expected to call some court employees to testify, and possibly a handwriting expert to discuss custody documents Smith is accused of forging.