SAN AUGUSTINE, Texas (AP) — Closing arguments have been set for Tuesday in the East Texas trial of two women accused of kidnapping a Houston boy when he was 8 months old and hiding him for eight years before he was found.
Krystle Tanner and her mother, Gloria Walker, have each been charged with kidnapping and injury to a child in the 2004 disappearance of Miguel Morin, now 8.
If convicted, they face up to life in prison. Testimony in the case began Monday and wrapped up Thursday. Neither Tanner, 27, nor Walker, 51, testified in their defense. Both are free on bond.
During the trial this week in San Augustine, about 140 miles northeast of Houston, prosecutors have tried to show jurors Tanner and Walker repeatedly lied to authorities about the boy's identity.
Authorities say Tanner, who used to baby-sit Miguel, took the boy from his Houston apartment complex when he was a baby. They say she and her mother moved the boy from homes in Central and East Texas to avoid detection, keeping him out of school and renaming him Jaquan.
After Tanner's newborn son in April 2010 tested positive for marijuana, authorities began investigating her and later determined that she had the missing boy. Tanner and Walker were arrested in March 2012.
San Augustine County sheriff's Chief Deputy Gary Cunningham testified this week that during his investigation, Tanner lied about who the boy was, saying he was the son of a woman in a nearby town. After her arrest, Tanner indicated her mother had instructed her to make up a name for Miguel or "she would be in trouble," he said.
KTRE-TV of Lufkin reported Thursday (http://bit.ly/YtTs91 ) that defense attorneys said Miguel was not kidnapped but was sold by his biological mother to Tanner for $200.
On Thursday, Jennifer Kauffelt, a Houston police officer with the special crimes division-sex crimes unit, testified the investigation was closed in 2005 because the boy's parents were uncooperative and there were conflicting statements about whether Miguel had been taken.
Kauffelt said she thought this was not a kidnapping case but one about interference with child custody because she believed the boy's parents and Tanner had an agreement related to his custody.
The television station reported earlier this week that the boy's mother, Auboni Champion-Morin, told jurors her son was taken by Tanner. She testified that Houston police did not keep in touch with her about the case.
Cunningham testified there was significant evidence showing this was a case of kidnapping and not about a custody dispute.
After being found, Miguel was placed in foster case. A judge in Houston last month placed the boy with his four siblings, who are being taken care of by a Houston-area couple, Junita and Joseph Auguillard. The Auguillards have been taking care of Miguel's siblings for nearly 10 years under an agreement they have with the boy's parents.
Miguel has been told about the true identity of his parents and his siblings, and he has been having weekly joint therapy sessions with his parents.
Information from: KTRE-TV, http://www.ktre.com