Baby Gabriel's mom competent but lawyerless

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Javier Soto

Posted on December 7, 2011 at 9:56 AM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 7 at 10:08 AM

PHOENIX -- A doctor says the mother of the Tempe baby who has been missing nearly two years has been restored to competency, which clears the way for her to stand trial.

At the end of September, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Paul McMurdie ruled that Elizabeth Johnson was incompetent to stand trial. At the same time, he agreed with three doctors who said Johnson would be restored to competency with medication and counseling.

The judge on Wednesday morning said that goal has been achieved and that Johnson is now competent to stand trial.

At this point, however, Johnson does not have a lawyer to represent her.

At the end of Wednesday's hearing, Johnson's lawyers asked to be removed from the case, saying the relationship with their client was "broken." Johnson agreed with her lawyers' assessment.

McMurdie released the attorneys and scheduled another status conference for Dec. 13. At that time, the court will deal with Johnson's representation.

Gabriel Johnson was just 8 months old when he vanished just after Christmas 2009.

Johnson faces charges of kidnapping, conspiracy to commit custodial interference and child abuse. She has been in jail since she was extradited back to Phoenix from Florida in January 2010.

Johnson originally claimed she killed the baby boy, but later said she gave the child to a couple in San Antonio, Texas.

The last time Gabriel was seen alive was in a San Antonio hotel room a couple of days after Christmas two years ago. Despite an extensive multi-state search and a massive investigation, there has been no sign of Gabriel since then.

 
 

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