Mother of missing baby Gabriel Johnson goes to trial Thursday

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Missing baby Gabriel Johnson vanished nearly three years ago, and Thursday his mother goes to trial on charges relating to his disappearance.

Attorneys in Elizabeth Johnson's kidnapping and custodial interference case met with the judge over last-minute motions Wednesday.

Aside from reporters, the only other courtroom observer was Gabriel's father, Logan McQueary. He will be among the first to testify at the trial.

Others scheduled to take the stand include Johnson's former roommate, Gabriel's grandfather, Frank McQueary, and others who knew her.   

Also, police officers from Florida, where Johnson was found and arrested in early 2010, and Texas, where Gabriel was last scene, will appear before the jury. The woman who babysat Gabriel in a San Antonio hotel before he disappeared is also on the witness list.

Johnson's attorney, Marc Victor, doesn't know if his client will take the stand.

"In the end, it's up to Elizabeth Johnson," Victor told 3TV.

"With her history of instability in the case, it's anyone's guess whether she can hold it together on any given day," said attorney Jason Lamm, who's followed the case from the start.   

Johnson has fired several teams of attorneys, written critical letters to judges, and refused to even show up to court hearings at times. Her attorney says that's all in the past.

"Elizabeth is anxious to get this case to trial and have a jury hear her side," Victor said.

Johnson took Gabriel, against court orders, around Christmas in 2009 to Texas. She and the baby's father were in a fierce custody battle. McQueary wanted full custody, and Johnson vowed never to let him keep their baby.

In a taped phonetical the jury is sure to hear, Johnson told McQueary that she killed Gabriel and put his body in a dumpster.  She later changed her story, saying she gave the baby away to an anonymous couple in a San Antonio park.

The jury of nine men and six women will decide if prosecutors proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The trial is slated to last through October.