Elizabeth Johnson sobs in court during opening statements - CBS 5 - KPHO


Elizabeth Johnson sobs in court during opening statements

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Opening statements were heard in the trial of Elizabeth Johnson, the mother of missing baby Gabriel Johnson. Opening statements were heard in the trial of Elizabeth Johnson, the mother of missing baby Gabriel Johnson.

An emotional Elizabeth Johnson broke down Thursday during opening statements in Maricopa County Superior Court.

The Valley mom is on trial for allegedly kidnapping her young son Gabriel, who's been missing since December 2009.

Johnson is also charged with custodial interference.

[CBS5AZ.com is scheduled to carry live video streaming coverage every day of the trial.]

Johnson's lawyers and the prosecution set the table for the 12-person jury and three alternates.

Prosecutor Elisa Ramunno told jurors Johnson ran off to another state with the child because the baby's father, Logan McQueary, had broken up with her.

Ramunno said that the young mother had tried unsuccessfully to put her son up for adoption against his father's wishes.

Johnson wiped away tears when the prosecutor said Gabriel was part of his mother's game of retaliation.

"Gabriel Johnson was a pawn. He was a tool," Rumunno told the jury. "He was a piece in a game and the object of that game was to keep Gabriel Johnson from Logan McQueary. It was to retaliate against Logan McQueary for breaking up with her and her intent was to place him in fear for safety of his son."

Johnson's attorney, Marc Victor, said he won't dispute many facts and added that the case wasn't about whether jurors like his client.

"This case isn't about whether or not you like Elizabeth Johnson," Victor said. "It doesn't matter to me whether you like Elizabeth Johnson or not. My job is to do my best to get you to focus on the elements of the crimes charged."

Johnson is charged with kidnapping and custodial interference in the case of her missing son, who was 8 months old when last seen in December 2009.

Johnson's story has changed since the ordeal began.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Elizabeth Johnson, Baby Gabriel.]

She initially told McQueary that she killed Gabriel and put his body in a dumpster, but later told authorities she gave the child away to a couple in San Antonio.

Gabriel has not been found.

"This case isn't about whether or not she is innocent," said Victor. "This case is about whether or not the state presents evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she's guilty."

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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