Jury deliberations in the Elizabeth Johnson trialPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- It's like ignoring "an 800 pound gorilla in the room."
That's the way Elizabeth Johnson's defense attorney described instructions given to jurors in his client's high-profile case.
In those instructions, the jurors were ordered not to concern themselves with "the current status" of missing Baby Gabriel Johnson.
"Current status of Gabriel Johnson not an issue in this case," Judge Joseph Kreamer admonished jurors Tuesday afternoon before he handed them the case for deliberation.
But of course outside the court room, questions about Baby Gabriel's whereabouts and status go to the heart of this highly-publicized and still unsolved mystery.
Gabriel's 26-year-old mother, Elizabeth Johnson, is charged with kidnapping the child, conspiring with a woman named Tammi Smith, and interfering with the custody rights of the child's father, Logan McQuery.
The baby was last seen in late December 2009 in San Antonio, Texas.
Johnson initially claimed that she had "suffocated" the child and disposed of the body in a garbage can.
She later told law officers she gave the baby away to an unidentified couple in a Texas park.
Texas authorities have not filed any criminal charges against Johnson.
Now jurors in Johnson's Arizona case are basically deciding not whether she hurt or killed her child, but whether she illegally took Gabriel to Texas and away from his father Logan McQuery.
And that 800 pound gorilla in the court room has now taken a seat along with jurors in the deliberation room.