Tammi Smith prepares to take the stand at trial

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by Jared Dillingham

Bio | Email | Follow: @JaredDillingham

azfamily.com

Posted on May 9, 2012 at 9:38 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 9 at 9:41 AM

PHOENIX --  The prosecution rested its case against Tammi Smith, the woman who was trying to adopt missing baby Gabriel Johnson in the weeks before his December 2009 disappearance.

Smith is expected to take the stand Wednesday or Thursday as part of her defense.

Smith pleaded not guilty to forgery and conspiracy charges. Investigators have long-believed Smith helped Gabriel's mother, Elizabeth Johnson, run away with him. They also claim Smith forged adoption papers.

Smith broke down in court Tuesday, as prosecutors played audio recordings from January 2010.  She sobbed, listening to police try to convince Johnson to turn on Smith. They told Johnson that Smith was manipulative and not the motherly figure she was pretending to be.

"She doesn't care that you're in jail," an investigator told Johnson on the tape. "In fact, [Smith thinks] it's good that you're in here. As every day goes by and we don't know where Gabriel is, it looks worse on you and she's nice and comfortable in a nice home."

Investigators on the tape convince Johnson to confront Smith during a secretly recorded phone conversation in an attempt to get her to reveal new information. At that point, police were wondering if Smith found people for Johnson to give her son to.

"I can't hide your involvement in [Gabriel's disappearance] and the plans you made," Johnson is heard saying on the wire-tapped call.

Confused, Smith responded, "Wait? What plans? What are you talking about?"

Smith is later heard pleading with Johnson, "Elizabeth, we have got to find that baby. The only way to do that is for you to tell the truth."

The wire taps ultimately revealed no useful information pertaining to Gabriel's whereabouts.

Johnson has been in jail for more than two years and faces her own trial toward the end of the summer on a range of charges, including kidnapping. She initially told investigators that she killed Gabriel but later changed her story, insisting she gave him to an anonymous couple in a San Antonio park.

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