Arizona mom of missing boy sentenced to 5 1/4 years in prison - New York News

Arizona mom of missing boy sentenced to 5 1/4 years in prison

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Elizabeth Johnson - 12/7/12 Elizabeth Johnson - 12/7/12
Gabriel Johnson Gabriel Johnson
PHOENIX -

It's been almost three years since little baby Gabriel went missing.  On Friday, a judge sentenced the boy's mother, Elizabeth Johnson, for custodial interference, but not before she broke her silence.

"I take full responsibility for my actions and I regret taking Gabriel away from Logan and I regret the horrible things that I said."

Johnson apologized in court.  It's the first time we've heard from her since her case went to trial.  The 26-year-old was convicted in her son's disappearance.

8-month-old Gabriel vanished back in September 2009.  Elizabeth initially told the baby's father, Logan McQueary, that she killed the little boy.  But later told police she gave the child away to a couple in a Texas park.

"I will never be able to give back what I have taken I would, if I could..I am broken hearted over my son still being missing," said Johnson.

The judge sentenced Johnson to over five years in prison for custodial interference.  But with time already served, Johnson will only remain in jail another two years.

"At the end of the day, Gabriel is still missing and it's my fault."

But her apology in court Friday and even her conviction left many unanswered questions.

"I am ashamed of the choices I made and the pain that has resulted.  I know that just an apology at this point is offensive to many who believe I should be able to offer more."

Johnson asked the judge to give her the maximum sentence.  That would have been over nine years.  Instead, she got 5 1/4, minus 3 years for time served.  Total: roughly 2 years and 3 months.

In court, prosecutors made a dramatic offer to Johnson: tell them where Gabriel is and they'd ask the judge to sentence her to probation -- she could walk free.

"If Miss Johnson will finally tell us where Gabriel Johnson is, not what she claims she did or vague statements, but his actual physical whereabouts," said a prosecutor.

But Elizabeth wouldn't say.  Her defense attorney begged for leniency.

"What we got here is a young woman with a horrible, horrible childhood.  What I would call a train wreck."

The judge split the difference.  The dispute remains between Logan McQueary's family and Johnson's.

"I think she killed the baby.  I have though that she killed the baby from the start, said Logan's father, Frank.  "She made those statements that she skilled the baby..that had the ring of truth to it."

When asked in your heart of hearts, do you think she killed baby Gabriel, Elizabeth's grandfather, Bob Johnson, said "No, I don't.  I think she gave him away.  She never changed her story."

Elizabeth claimed she took Gabriel to Texas and gave him away to a couple in a San Antonio park.  McQueary's family wants police there to keep investigating the disappearance as a murder.

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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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