Attorney for Baby Gabriel's mom claims detective violated rights

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Normal Attorney for Baby Gabriel's mom claims detective violated rights

Post by Wrapitup on Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:28 am

By Peter J. Holley - Express-News
Web Posted: 10/22/2010 6:00 PM CDT

Attorneys representing Elizabeth Johnson, the Arizona mother charged with kidnapping in the case of the missing 8-month-old baby Gabriel Johnson, have accused a San Antonio Police detective of wrecking her defense by conducting an unauthorized interview with her.

Police Chief William McManus said the detective did conduct the interview May 10, three months after a police investigation here led to a landfill search on the possibility that the baby was killed and thrown in the trash.

But McManus called the defense claims unsubstantiated and said the detective has not been removed from the case.

Arguing the detective caused irreparable damage to their relationship with their client, attorneys Nick Alcock and Adam Feldman have asked a judge to dismiss the Arizona charges against the 24-year-old mother, who remains in the Maricopa County Jail in Phoenix.

Their motion states the detective gained access to Johnson for a multi-hour interview in which he disparaged her representation and gathered potentially incriminating evidence against her. The interview continued, the motion states, despite repeated requests by Johnson to have her attorney present.

The motion identified the detective as Jesse Salame, an 11-year SAPD veteran.

McManus declined to talk about specifics of the motion but said the detective discussed only the San Antonio portion of the police investigation of Johnson.

“What we have at this time are unsubstantiated allegations,” he said. “No formal complaint has been filed with SAPD. Should a complaint be filed we will handle accordingly.”

Alcock said the jailhouse interview occurred in defiance of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, which had denied Salame's request to speak with her. A spokesman for that office declined comment, saying only that prosecutors are expected to answer the defense motion at a hearing in early November.

“When you're facing very serious criminal charges there has to be 100 percent, unwavering trust” between a defendant and defense attorneys, Alcock said by phone. “There's no way that this detective's actions did not undermine that in some way.”

In addition to telling Johnson not to trust her attorneys, Alcock said Salame repeatedly touched Johnson, at one point holding her hand and wedging his legs between hers. Alcock called the interview “highly emotional” and said Salame told Johnson that he — not her attorney — was the only person who could control whether she would face the death penalty.

“That's pretty significant, especially when you consider that our client was in the psych ward and on medication,” Alcock said. “It's unheard of. We told the court we basically think this woman can't take care of herself mentally.”

Alcock said repeated requests to SAPD for Salame to turn over statements from the interview have been ignored. Johnson has not been charged in Bexar County, where law enforcement authorities, with the help of volunteers, searched for Gabriel's remains through 4,260 tons of trash for 16 days at the Tessman Road Landfill in February.

The landfill area was targeted because authorities believed it might contain the contents of a trash bin at a motel where Johnson had stayed and where Gabriel was last seen with her on Dec. 26.

The mother and child traveled here from Arizona. Gabriel's father, Logan McQueary, has said Johnson indicated she had killed the baby in a text message sent the following day, and later told him she put the body in the trash.

Johnson then went to Florida, where she was arrested Dec. 30 on kidnapping, child abuse and custodial interference charges and extradited back to Arizona.

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/attorney_for_baby_gabriels_mom_claims_sa_detective_violated_rights_105567503.html?c=y&page=2#storytop


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