Baby Gabriel's mother in tears during trial opening

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Opening statements took place Thursday in the trial of the mother of missing "Baby Gabriel."

The little boy hasn't been seen for nearly three years and his mom, 26-year-old Elizabeth Johnson, is charged with kidnapping, custodial interference and conspiracy to commit custodial interference.

“In a matter of three weeks the lives of Logan McQueary and Gabriel Johnson were forever altered by the fury of a woman scorned and by the obsession and meddling of Tami Smith,” said Prosecutor Elisa Ramunno. “Gabriel Johnson was a pawn, a tool, a piece in a game and that game to her was to keep Gabriel Johnson away from Logan McQueary to retaliate against Logan for breaking up with her and place him in fear for the safety of his son.”

Gabriel was last seen in December 2009 in San Antonio.

Johnson was emotional as the prosecutor described the horrific text messages and phone calls she made to McQueary while on the run with Gabriel in Texas.

“She texts him I killed him,” said Ramunno. “Logan McQueary hears from Elizabeth that she killed their son, suffocated him, stuffed him in a bag and put him in a dumpster and described these horrific acts and blamed it on him.”

Johnson later recanted telling the FBI that she actually gave Gabriel to a couple in a San Antonio park, but the boy has never been found.

“Gabriel's current status, Gabriel's whereabouts is simply not an issue in this case,” said Elizabeth Johnson’s defense attorney Marc Victor. 

He asked jurors not to be distracted by emotion or speculation. 

“My job is to do my best to get you to focus on the elements of the crimes charged," Victor stated.

Victor said he would not dispute many facts in the case but would not say how he would defend Johnson.

“This case isn't about whether or not she's innocent it's about whether or not the state presents evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that she is guilty,” said Victor. “Stay tuned.”

Witnesses testimony in this case will begin Monday at which time Gabriel’s Dad, Logan McQueary, is expected to testify.