Guilty verdict in Tammi Smith trial, Baby Gabriel's would-be adoptive mother

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by Mike Watkiss

Bio | Email | Follow: @mikewatkiss3TV

azfamily.com

Posted on May 18, 2012 at 4:53 AM

Updated Friday, May 18 at 6:45 AM

PHOENIX -- Tammi Smith, the would-be adoptive mother of missing Baby Gabriel, has been found guilty of forgery and conspiracy to commit custodial interference.

The jury of three men and five women deliberated for five hours over the three days.

In a separate decision, the jury found there were aggravating circumstances in the case, emotional harm and presence of an accomplice.

Smith faces up to seven years in prison when she is sentenced. Sentencing is expected to happen in July.

Smith was on trial for her role in the days and weeks leading up to the disappearance of 8-month-old Gabriel Johnson in December 2009.

Prosecutors during the month-long trial portrayed the 40-year-old Scottsdale resident as a relentlessly meddling and conniving woman obsessed with adopting the child who has come to be known as "Baby Gabriel."

The little boy has not been seen since shortly after Christmas '09 when his mother, Elizabeth Johnson, fled with the boy to Texas.

Smith was not charged with abusing or kidnapping Gabriel, but instead with conspiring with Johnson to sever the parental right's of the child's father, Logan McQuery, so Smith and her husband, Jack, could adopt Gabriel.

Smith is also charged with forging a court document challenging McQuery's paternity.

In her closing argument Tuesday, prosecutor Angela Andrews slammed Smith as a manipulative liar, saying, "The defendant wanted this child for herself. She wanted to make Gabriel Johnson her own and she was going to do that at any cost to Logan McQuery."

During her closing argument, Smith's defense attorney, Ann Phillips, told jurors that her client "was not obsessed" and that "it's not a crime to want to adopt" a child.

Phillips then laid blame on Johnson and on Tempe police, saying Johnson manipulated Smith and that Tempe cops "needed a villain."

In response to Thursday’s guilty verdicts Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery released the following statement:

“Today’s verdicts are just the latest step in our efforts to seek justice for Gabriel Johnson and hold accountable those who are responsible for his disappearance. I am proud of the hard work of our prosecutors and law enforcement partners who presented a strong case for the jury’s consideration.”

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