Elizabeth Johnson's lawyer: 'This is clearly a victory for the defense'

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Less than 24 hours after beating a charge of kidnapping for his client, attorney Marc Victor sat down with 3TV's Ryan O'Donnell to talk about one of the most controversial cases Arizona has seen -- the case of Elizabeth Johnson, the mother of the Tempe baby who has been missing for nearly three year.

"There's no question about the fact that this is a victory for the defense," he said Friday morning. "It was really our only goal when we started the representation. The kidnapping charge itself was such a heavy charge. That was the one that subjected her to up to 24 years of flat time.

"Beating the kidnapping charges means, at the end of the day, she's eligible for probation on everything else," he continued.

Fairly sure the jury would convict Johnson of custodial interference, which they did, Victor did not put any witnesses on the stand and kept his cross examinations to a minimum, arguing instead that the prosecution did not prove its case for kidnapping.

Johnson has been in jail since she was arrested in Florida on Dec, 30, 2009 and extradited back to Arizona shortly after. Gabriel, just 8 months old at the time, was last seen with his mother on Dec. 26, 2009, at a hotel in San Antonio, Texas. Despite an extensive multi-state search, there's been no sign of him since.

Before the trial got under way, Johnson had faced a charge of child abuse in addition to the kidnapping, custodial interference and conspiracy to commit custodial interference counts.

"We got that thrown out before the trial started because there really was never any evidence," Victor said.

With the verdict in, one question still remains, and it's a big one. Where is baby Gabriel?

O'Donnell asked Victor just that.

"Of course, I don't think that she killed baby Gabriel," he said. "I believe that the preponderance of evidence in this case is that she gave baby Gabriel to the couple in San Antonio. ... Everything in this case was consistent with Elizabeth Johnson loving and caring for Gabriel Johnson. ..."

While Victor will push for probation for Johnson, it's possible that she could get nine years behind bars.

Johnson's sentencing date will be determined at a status conference on Nov. 1,

Click the video above to watch the entire interview with Victor.