Arizona woman complicit in Baby Gabriel case gets 30 days in jail, probation
CNN — An Arizona woman was sentenced Friday to probation and 30 days in jail following her conviction for being complicit in the case of the boy known as Baby Gabriel, who was last seen in 2009.
In May, Tammi Smith was found guilty of forgery and conspiracy to interfere with the custody of Gabriel Johnson when he was then 8 months old. Prosecutors argued she tried to help the infant's mother, Elizabeth Johnson, wrangle custody of the boy from his father, Logan McQueary, in order to adopt the little boy herself.
Smith addressed the court Friday, admitting that she helped Johnson and helped care for Gabriel for nine days. She began with a lengthy discussion of her Christian faith and criticism of "certain people hiding behind fake profiles on the internet" and others who have maligned her.
Smith, 40, eventually apologized for any "pain and suffering" that helping Johnson may have caused, even as she firmly insisted that her intentions were good.
"I never intended to hurt anybody," Johnson said, adding that she just wanted to help a single mother who she felt was in need. "I pray every day that Gabriel is alive and that he is found."
But Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joseph Kreamer questioned whether Smith truly accepted what she'd done, in denying the boy's father access and forging another person's name on a document to again hinder the father's rights to the child.
"There are times in the world that it's important to simply say I am sorry. You can look to the McQuearys to say what happened to you is awful, I'm sorry. ... I didn't hear that from you," the judge said.
Noting Smith was not convicted for anything to do with Baby Gabriel's disppearance, Kreamer also said that it is not criminal for her to assume that the boy's father was wrong and Johnson was right.
"But it is a crime when you set out to harm somebody's right to their child, and without knowing everything," he said.
The judge read out a statement from McQueary himself, which he said he took into account in deciding a sentence. The boy's father said he wanted Smith to see "the pain" she had caused by her "immaturity and actions," while adding, "I don't believe putting Tammi Smith in jail would serve any purpose and is not the answer."
Kreamer ended up sentencing Smith to 30 days in jail on one count, plus a deferred 30-day jail sentence on the other count that he said she'd likely not serve. She also faces two three-year probation sentences for each conviction.
Johnson herself is still awaiting trial on charges of kidnapping, custodial interference and child abuse. She allegedly told the father she killed the infant and put his body in a garbage bin, but later told police she drove from her home in Arizona to Texas and gave him to a couple she met in a San Antonio park.
She later told police she handed over the child under Smith's direction, and prosecutors said that Smith falsely wrote the name of her cousin on a paternity document to falsely assert that he -- and not McQueary -- was Gabriel's father.
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