Damaging testimony for defendant in baby Gabriel case

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by Mike Watkiss

Bio | Email | Follow: @mikewatkiss3TV

azfamily.com

Posted on April 19, 2012 at 9:34 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 19 at 9:41 PM

PHOENIX -- Day three in the high-profile criminal trial of Scottsdale resident Tammi Smith saw prosecutors building their case against the 40-year-old wife and mother.

Smith is charged with forgery and conspiracy to commit custodial interference for her alleged role in the disappearance of 8-month-old Gabriel Johnson in December of 2009.

First on the witness stand Thursday morning was Tammi Smith's cousin, Craig Cherry. According to prosecutors it was Cherry's name that Smith and Baby Gabriel's mother, Elizabeth Johnson, fraudulently put on a court document indicating that he may be Gabriel's father.

But under questioning by prosecutor Elisa Ramunno, Cherry told jurors that he had never met Elizabeth Johnson and was unaware that his name had been placed on the document until notified by the media and Tempe police.

Cherry's testimony was certainly damaging to his cousin Tammi Smith as prosecutors try to establish that Smith conspired with Elizabeth Johnson to sever the parental rights of the child's father Logan McQuery.

Prosecutors contend that it was part of an obsessive effort on the part of Tammi Smith and her husband Jack to adopt Baby Gabriel.

Also damaging to Smith was the afternoon testimony of Tempe police officer Gregory Duarte.

Under questioning by prosecutor Ann Phillips, Duarte indicated that while he and other Tempe investigators were at the Smith's North Scottsdale home in late December 2009 looking for Elizabeth Johnson and her baby, after the pair had fled to Texas, Tammi Smith was actually exchanging text messages with Johnson -- unbeknownst to the police officers inside the Smith's home.

Tammi Smith has pleaded not guilty.  Her trial is expected to last five weeks.

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