Elizabeth Johnson sentenced to 5.25 years in prison, minus time served

PHOENIX - A judge has sentenced Elizabeth Johnson, the mother of missing "Baby Gabriel", to 5.25 years in prison followed years of probation, minus time served.

The judge said just after 5 p.m. Friday that Johnson has already served 1,062 days, so she will serve the remaining 2 1/3 years in prison.

After prison, she will serve 4 years of probation. Johnson's attorney said, she could get released in 1.25 years if she has good behavior.

ABC15's Christopher Sign was live-tweeting from inside the courtroom.

At 4:02 p.m.: Elizabeth Johnson said, "I do deserve the maximum. I do."

@ChristopherSign at 3:59 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson: I wanted what's best for #BabyGabriel I gave him away to give him what I never had - a real family.

@ChristopherSign at 3:58 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson: I have to live everyday without my son not knowing where he is, I hope he is happy with his family.

At 3:23 p.m.: Judge gave everyone a 15-minute break

@ChristopherSign at 3:14 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson crying loudly as her grandma talks about the day Elizabeth's mom died.

@ChristopherSign at 3:12 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson grandmother speaking to judge describing Elizabeth going in & out of foster care & tough upbringing.

@SHockridgeABC15 at 3:06 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson Twin Brother: Please don't put her in jail. I need her to take care of me.

@ChristopherSign at 3:05 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson brother: She has been there for me, she is all I have, she is my twin, she is caring.

@ChristopherSign at 3:03 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson crying as her brother speaks on her behalf. @abc15 #BabyGabriel "she wanted Gabriel to have a better life than we did."

@ChristopherSign at 3:02 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson grandfather Bob Johnson speaking on her behalf. #BabyGabriel "she is not a bad person just made bad decision."

@SHockridgeABC15 at 2:53 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson breaks down crying for the 3rd time during Sentencing when Defense Witness says "She's easy to manipulate"

@ChristopherSign at 2:51 p.m.: Friend of #ElizabethJohnson telling court that Elizabeth is a good mom and caring person & loves her baby.

@ChristopherSign at 2:48 p.m.: Prosecutors ask judge to sentence #ElizabethJohnson to 5+ years along with probation

@SHockridgeABC15 at 2:45 p.m.: State Rec. Sentencing for #ElizabethJohnson: 3.75 years (custodial interference), 1.5 years (unlawful imprisonment) to serve consecutively

@ChristopherSign at 2:39 p.m.: State offers deal if #ElizabethJohnson says where #BabyGabriel is located. Probation if she talks - proceed if not.

@ChristopherSign at 2:36 p.m.: Logan wants #ElizabethJohnson to stay in jail until his son is found. "I will never hear my son's first words."

@SHockridgeABC15 at 2:35 p.m.: #BabyGabriel's Dad: "i didn't get to hear his first word, see him walk or become a great man" #ElizabethJohnson emotionless while he speaks

@ChristopherSign at 2:34 p.m.: Logan McQueary on phone in court talking about #ElizabethJohnson & his missing son #BabyGabriel as Elizabeth is about to be sentenced

@SHockridgeABC15 at 2:32 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson cries during #BabyGabriel Great-Grandmother letter. "She told me not every mother loves their baby, some throw them away"

@ChristopherSign at 2:31 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson tearing up as photo shown in court of #BabyGabriel as newborn held by the boy's great grandma

@ChristopherSign at 2:26 p.m.: #BabyGabriel family says they still have unopened Xmas presents waiting for him & have sat since he vanished in 2009.

@SHockridgeABC15 at 2:24 p.m.: FAMILY:"#ElizabethJohnson knows what happened.If released from jail she'll never say,maybe fall in love again, while we search for her son"

@ChristopherSign at 2:24 p.m.: "Gabe is the one without a voice.. please keep her in jail until she tells us where he is." #BabyGabriel witness for prosecution.

@SHockridgeABC15 at 2:21 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson looking straight at family emotionless as they ask Judge for the harshest sentencing possible in #BabyGabriel case.

@SHockridgeABC15 at 2:11 p.m.: FAMILY: "Gabriel trusted his mommy up until the very moment she betrayed him"

@ChristopherSign at 2:10 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson faces anything from probation to 9 years.

@SHockridgeABC15 at 2:08 p.m.: FAMILY: "we hold our breath and wait every day for the case to break and we will find"

@ChristopherSign at 2:03 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson staring straight ahead as relatives of #BabyGabriel father speak about the missing boy & effects on them.

@ChristopherSign at 2 p.m.: Frank Mqueary addressing the judge - he is Logan's father #BabyGabriel & Frank says #ElizabethJohnson hurt family

@ChristopherSign at 1:58 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson Standing in front of judge giving her name and DOB

@ChristopherSign at 1:56 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson sitting idle in jailhouse stripes, hair in pny tail, pink socks & shoes w/no laces as her attorney speaks. #BabyGabriel

@ChristopherSign at 1:54 p.m.: Judge Joseph Kreamer going over ground rules & motions. #ElizabethJohnson expected to speak.


at 1:49 p.m.: #ElizabethJohnson hearing underway.

@ChristopherSign at 1:41 p.m.: attorneys & prosecutors back in courtroom. Judge Kreamer due in any moment.

@ChristopherSign at 1:39 p.m.: smiling & chatting with baliff while attorneys meet in judge chambers.

@ChristopherSign at 1:34 p.m.: attorneys & prosecutors just went back to judge's chambers.

@ChristopherSign at 1:30 p.m.: Courtroom quiet waiting for judge to enter.

@ChristopherSign at 1:28 p.m.: turning & smiling to her family seated behind her.

@ChristopherSign at 1:26 p.m.: just walked in wearing jailhouse stripes smiling looking to see who is in the courtroom.

@ChristopherSign at 1:25 p.m.: grandfather & brother in courtroom. & Logan Mqueary's father here as well.


Elizabeth Johnson was sentenced for her custodial interference and unlawful imprisonment convictions in the Christmastime 2009 disappearance of her then-8-month-old son, Gabriel.

Authorities said Johnson told the boy's father that she killed Gabriel and dumped him in a trash bin, but recanted and told police she gave the infant to a couple at a San Antonio, Texas, park. She never provided the couple's names.

Gabriel would have turned 3 this past April. Authorities don't know if he's still alive.

Prosecutors alleged Johnson ran off to Texas with the child as a way to retaliate against his father for ending their tumultuous relationship. The father isn't suspected in the child's disappearance.

In mid-October, a jury convicted Johnson of custodial interference and conspiracy to commit custodial inference, but failed to reach a verdict a kidnapping charge -- the most serious count against her -- and instead found her guilty of a lesser count of unlawful imprisonment, meaning a maximum possible prison sentence of 27 years was off the table.

Victor has said his client is aware of the horrible mistakes that she has made, regrets the grief she caused the boy's father and described Johnson as an unsophisticated single mother who was in a volatile relationship with the boy's father and was being manipulated by a woman who wanted to adopt Gabriel.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joseph Kreamer had rejected Johnson's bid for release from jail while she awaited sentencing and noted that Johnson would probably face a prison term on top of the nearly three years she has already spent in jail.

The boy was last seen with his mother on Dec. 26, 2009, at a hotel in San Antonio.

Investigators said Johnson brought the child from Tempe to Texas, stayed for a week and then took a bus to Florida without him. She was arrested in Florida on Dec. 30, 2009.

Johnson had been fighting with the boy's father about whether to give up Gabriel for adoption. She signed over temporary guardianship of the boy to a Scottsdale couple for about 10 days before she picked him up and left Arizona.

The would-be adoptive mother from Scottsdale, Tammi Peters Smith, was accused  of lying on a court document about the child's possible paternity in an effort to keep Gabriel from his father. Smith was convicted of forgery and conspiracy to commit custodial interference.

In 2010, San Antonio police scoured a landfill that contained trash from the hotel where Gabriel was last seen. The search turned up no body or other evidence.

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