Elizabeth Johnson convicted of lesser charge - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Elizabeth Johnson convicted of lesser charge

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Elizabeth Johnson after verdict was read Elizabeth Johnson after verdict was read
PHOENIX -

Thursday at 3:45 p.m., a jury decided the fate of Elizabeth Johnson, who was charged with kidnapping, custodial interference and conspiracy to commit custodial interference.

The verdict: She was acquitted of kidnapping, but convicted instead of unlawful imprisonment - domestic violence; guilty of custodial interference - domestic violence; and guilty of conspiracy to commit custodial interference - domestic violence.

The jury deliberated for about a day and a half. It appears they couldn't agree on the kidnapping charge, and instead convicted her of unlawful imprisonment, a lesser charge.

Defense attorney Marc Victor told FOX 10 Elizabeth Johnson is "thrilled." He says the state cannot retry Johnson on the kidnapping charge.

"There's no other way to say it other than it's a huge victory for Elizabeth Johnson," said Victor. "There's a big piece of me that's happy as an American that they did the right thing to me, that they didn't succumb to what was a very emotional case."

Following the reading of the verdict, the aggravation phase of the trial began. That's when the jury decided whether aggravating factors took place -- doing so would make Johnson's sentence more harsh.

After about a half hour of deliberations in the aggravating phase, the jury found aggravating circumstances on all 3 counts.

Johnson's 8-month-old son Gabriel was last seen in December of 2009. It's believed that Johnson took her son across country and gave him to a couple in San Antonio before being arrested in Florida.

In a text message to the baby's father, Johnson said she killed her son and dumped his body in a trash bag. She later retracted, saying the unidentified couple adopted him.

Authorities found no evidence he was killed, even after an extensive landfill search. The San Antonio Police Department's case is still classified as a missing persons case.

A kidnapping conviction held a mandatory penalty of 10 years. Johnson faced up to 27 years if convicted on all counts. She's already been jailed for 2 1/2 years.

Frank McQueary, Gabriel's grandfather, admitted he's disappointed.

"Quite honestly I wanted to see her go to jail for a long time because that's what she deserves," he said. "The bottom line is the baby's still out there someplace, alive or dead. Elizabeth's part in this isn't over... Elizabeth is one of those not-so-nice people, quite honestly she shouldn't be out here walking around with everybody else."

Johnson will spend a minimal time in jail, or perhaps be released on probation because of time already served. A status conference regarding sentencing and release conditions was put on the calendar for 9:30 a.m. on November 1.

The sentencing date will be set at that time. In the meantime, Johnson will remain in custody.

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