The search for justice in the Baby Gabriel case

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- It is a bizarre and heartbreaking mystery that centers around a beautiful little sandy-haired, blue-eyed boy named Gabriel -- a child who simply seemed to vanish without a trace one day after Christmas in 2009.

Now nearly two-and-a-half years later, the drama is taking center stage in several Maricopa County courtrooms.

On Monday morning, Baby Gabriel's mother, 25-year-old Elizabeth Johnson, was a no-show at a hearing in which her new defense lawyer, Marc Victor, condemned an interview conducted by a Texas police officer with his client while she was locked up in a Maricopa County jail.

Johnson faces charges that include kidnapping and child abuse after she allegedly gave her son away in some sort of "underground adoption" to an unidentified couple in a Texas park in late 2009.

Both the defense and the prosecution agreed that the conduct of the Texas cop was out of line as he interviewed Johnson while at times reportedly physically touching her. 

Johnson is scheduled to go on trial later this year.

Meanwhile, in another court room, Baby Gabriel's 27-year-old father Logan McQuery pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of theft after admitting to receiving stolen property last year. 

McQuery was given one year probation.

The real court room drama this week in the Baby Gabriel saga is slated to start on Tuesday when 40-year-old Scottsdale resident Tammi Smith goes on trial for her alleged role in the child's disappearance. 

Smith, who reportedly was desperate to adopt Gabriel, is charged with fraud and conspiracy to commit custodial interference.