Woman in missing baby case can no longer afford her lawyers - East Valley Tribune: Tempe

Woman in missing baby case can no longer afford her lawyers

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Posted: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 4:45 pm | Updated: 1:20 pm, Thu May 17, 2012.

The lawyers who represented a woman in the case of missing baby Gabriel Johnson since February no longer will be representing her in future court proceedings because they stated in court documents that she no longer can afford to pay them.

Michael Kimerer and Amy Nguyen, who had been representing Tammi Peters Smith since February in the case of the missing boy last seen Dec. 26, filed a notice of withdraw with Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Paul McMurdie on Monday to inform him they no longer would be representing Smith. The lawyers also requested that the court appoint an attorney for her.

Smith, 38, of Scottsdale, has been charged with forgery, custodial interference and conspiracy to commit custodial interference in connection with the case of the missing baby, who last was seen on Dec. 26 with his mother, Elizabeth Johnson at a motel in San Antonio, Texas.

In mid-December, Johnson drove to San Antonio with the boy in the midst of a custody battle with Logan McQueary of Gilbert, her estranged boyfriend and the boy’s father.

Johnson, 24, of Tempe, has been charged with kidnapping, felony child abuse, custodial interference and conspiracy to commit custodial interference. She is being held in a Maricopa County jail on a $1.1 million cash bond.

Early in the investigation, Smith and her husband, Jack, were discovered to be interested in adopting the boy from Johnson, and Tempe police believed they were devising a plan or had a one in place to have someone pick up Gabriel in Tennessee.

But on Dec. 27, Johnson told McQueary that she killed Gabriel, stuck his body in a diaper bag and threw it in a trash bin. She later told an FBI agent that she gave Gabriel away to a couple at a motel in San Antonio a day after she met them in a park there. Johnson has refused to reveal to authorities Gabriel’s whereabouts or his state of well-being.

Since the time Kimerer and Nguyen began representing Smith in February, they have reviewed “voluminous” disclosure items, consisting of approximately 1,500 documents, 53 CDs, multiple audio interviews and numerous wiretap interceptions, according to county court documents. Kimerer and Nguyen also tried to negotiate a plea agreement for Smith without success as the case go to trial, the court documents stated.

When Jack Smith answered the phone at their residence on Tuesday, he would not comment on the case. Kimerer and Nguyen could not be reached for comment.

Smith and Johnson are next scheduled to appear in court later this month.

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