As Elizabeth Johnson, the Tempe mother of missing Baby Gabriel is preparing to exchange her black and white striped jail uniform for bright orange prison garb, a Scottsdale woman connected to the case will remain free.
Johnson was sentenced Friday to 5.2 years in prison with nearly three years credited on charges of unlawful imprisonment, custodial interference and conspiracy to commit custodial interference in connection to Gabriel’s disappearance in late 2009. On the same day, Tammi Peters Smith, who had been interested in adopting Gabriel, also appeared in court.
Smith, 40, appeared earlier on Friday for a review hearing on the status of her three-year probationary period and 30-day jail sentence that was deferred for her involvement in the case that included charges of forgery and conspiracy to commit custodial interference.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joseph Kreamer, who sentenced Johnson, also eliminated Smith’s deferred jail sentence during Friday’s proceedings, but said Smith will remain on three years probation.
Smith and her husband, Jack, had tried to adopt Gabriel, and Tammi later looked into the possibility of adopting Johnson, then 24, so she could have custody of Gabriel, who was 7 months old when he was last seen on Dec. 27, 2009.
Johnson, now 26, who had been in jail since the time of her arrest in Miami, Fla. on Dec. 30, 2009, initially told Logan McQueary, her estranged boyfriend who is Gabriel’s father, that she killed Gabriel by suffocating him, put his “little blue body” in a diaper bag and tossed it in a Dumpster.
McQueary, formerly of Gilbert, recorded the phone call and played it for Tempe police.
At the time of her arrest, Johnson later told authorities that she gave Gabriel to a couple she didn’t know at a motel in San Antonio in a deal that the Smiths set up. The Smiths have denied those accusations. Johnson took Gabriel to San Antonio in the midst of a custody battle with McQueary.
Kreamer said that on Feb. 1, he will rule on the prosecution’s request to not allow Smith to profit in any way from her involvement in the case such as by making public speaking engagements, appearing on any television programs or writing a book.
“At the time of her sentencing, I don’t think she (Smith) fully appreciated the impact of her actions,” Kreamer said.
In July, Smith was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years probation. However, the jail sentence was deferred, according to information from the Maricopa County Probation Office.
Smith, 40, could have faced up to seven and a half years in prison on the charges.
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