MADISON, Wisconsin – A jury has convicted a woman of kidnapping her newborn nephew from Wisconsin and leaving him outside a West Branch gas station in subzero temperatures.
According to WKOW-TV, Kristin Smith, 31, was found guilty of kidnapping her nephew, Kayden Powell. She faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Authorities say Smith left the baby in a plastic tote near a gas station in West Branch after she learned police officers were investigating the child’s disappearance. The infant was found more than a day later, and was okay, despite sub-zero temperatures.
U.S. attorney Stephen Sinnott told jurors Smith lied to investigators “…for hours and hours…” after she was detained in Iowa on an arrest warrant from Texas and questioned about the baby’s whereabouts before the boy was found.
While Sinnott acknowledged Smith swaddled the child in blankets before abandoning him and had hoped to retrieve him, he called Smith “…an opportunistic and malicious person,” who had duped her half-sister and the baby’s father into believing she was concerned for them, and was primarily trying to avoid incrimination and jail after abandoning the infant.
Sinnott also showed jurors a plastic, fake belly with a navel from Smith’s SUV, and a birth certificate application from her Colorado home, as he told them Smith faked a pregnancy and wanted the child as her own.
“What motive? What benefit? It was precious: it was Kayden,” Sinnott said.
But Smith’s attorney, Matthew Noll said the prosecution’s case “…did not add up,” with Smith’s offer to the newborn couple to move to Colorado inconsistent with an alleged plot to kidnap the baby and bring him there.
Noll told jurors Smith panicked when she became aware of the pursuing police, and dropped off Kayden Powell. “This was probably not the best way for my client to handle the situation, but she is not guilty of this crime,” Noll said
Smith faces a possible life sentence.