May 25th, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
A Tucson jury convicted Tammi Smith of forgery and custodial interference last week in the ongoing case of the missing Baby Gabriel. Read about it here (My Fox Phoenix, 5/17/12).
Back in 2009, Elizabeth Johnson and Logan McQueary had a little son they named Gabriel. But Johnson was abusive to McQueary, often going on angry tirades that destroyed his property. They split up, but McQueary maintained his parental rights. When Johnson announced that she wanted to give up Gabriel for adoption, McQueary refused. That’s when Johnson disappeared. She traveled to Texas which is the last place anyone saw Gabriel. She told McQueary that she’d killed the child by smothering him, placing his body in a trash bag and then in a dumpster. She later said she’d given the child away to a couple in a San Antonio park. Gabriel has never been found, dead or alive.
Johnson was eventually located in Florida and extradited to Arizona for trial on kidnapping charges. She’s been behind bars ever since.
But before Gabriel’s disappearance, she had lengthy dealings with Tammi Smith. Smith claims she first met Johnson in an airport and befriended her. Smith had a child but wanted to adopt another and Johnson wanted to get rid of Gabriel, so understandably, the two hit it off. Strangely, though, Smith claims she had tried legitimate adoption methods, including attempting to adopt a Chinese baby, but was unsuccessful. Although she’s repeated the claim many times, no one reporting on the case has thought to inquire into the claim. After all, Smith is married and has another child who seems to be healthy and happy. So why was she unable to adopt another child?
Whatever the answer to that is, she and Johnson took steps toward Smith adopting Gabriel. Those included Smith forging a signature on court documents in their adoption case and claiming that a mutual friend, a gay man, was the boy’s father. Those efforts came to naught when McQueary refused to roll over for the adoption of his son. Johnson went walkabout and the rest is history.
So Tammi Smith went on trial for her part in the shoddy affair. My guess is that at least part of the DA’s animus against her is overflow from the extreme public anger at Elizabeth Johnson. She may not be Public Enemy No. 1 in Arizona, but she’s close. Here’s a mother who clearly had no interest in caring for her child, but knew that if McQueary go custody she’d have to pay child support. So she snatched the child and either murdered him or sold him to the highest bidder (when she was captured, she reportedly was wearing an expensive ring, suggesting that she had recently come into money). McQueary’s recording of her icily telling him that she’d killed his son and blaming him for her misdeed hasn’t exactly endeared Johnson to the hearts of the citizens of Arizona.
Neither has the fact that she’s so far eluded trial. Johnson has somehow managed to convince at least one expert that she’s incompetent to assist in her defense. My guess is that most people following the case know that she’s faking it. More recently, she’s been found competent to stand trial. That will begin later this summer.
So there’s a lot of anger and hatred directed at Elizabeth Johnson, and rightly so. Since Smith has so far been the only one caught in the crosshairs of the criminal law, she’s gotten the brunt of the public’s and the DA’s ire.
Smith will be sentenced in July. She faces up to 3.75 years in prison for each offense.