PHOENIX (CBS/KPHO) Baby Gabriel Johnson is still missing and his mother, Elizabeth Johnson, is still not talking to investigators about what happened to the infant, but Phoenix prosecutors have gotten one step closer to putting the young mother on trial - she's been declared competent to assist in her own defense.
Johnson disappeared with Gabriel on Dec. 26, 2009, but when police finally picked her up Dec. 30 in Miami, little Gabriel was nowhere to be found. The 23-year-old mother told police she gave the then 8-month-old child away to strangers in San Antonio, where her car was found. But she allegedly told a different story to the baby's father, Logan McQueary, in a text message, saying she had killed the baby and would tell him where to find Gabriel's "little blue body" when she was "safe" adding coldly "if the garbage don't [sic] come first."
She has since refused to speak to anyone about Gabriel's fate.
Elizabeth Johnson had previously been found incompetent in June, but a judge ruled Thursday that she's now able to understand the charges against her and assist in her own defense after she finished court-ordered treatment and therapy, according to CBS affiliate KPHO.
When Elizabeth Johnson disappeared she was reportedly in negotiations with a Tempe couple to adopt baby Gabriel in order to keep the child from McQueary. Jack and Terri Smith were quickly named as persons of interest in Gabriel's disappearance and were charged with forgery and conspiracy to commit custodial interference. Investigators say Terri Smith signed her cousin's name on Gabriel's birth certificate in order to get McQueary out of the picture, KPHO reported in January.
But now Tammi Smith may be negotiating for a plea bargain, her next appearance is scheduled for Sept. 27.
Elizabeth Johnson has been in the Maricopa County Jail since her arrest, no court date has been set.