SAN AUGUSTINE, Texas (AP) — An East Texas jury sentenced two women to prison Tuesday after convicting them of kidnapping a Houston boy when he was 8 months old and hiding him for eight years before he was found.
Gloria Walker was sentenced to 30 years for injury to a child and eight years for kidnapping, to be served concurrently. Her daughter, Krystle Tanner, was sentenced to eight years for kidnapping and eight years for the lesser charge of reckless injury to a child, also to be served concurrently.
Earlier in the day the same jury convicted them in the 2004 disappearance of Miguel Morin, who is now 8. Walker had faced up to life in prison, and Tanner faced 20 years.
"We believe that justice was done on behalf of Miguel," said San Augustine County District Attorney Kevin Dutton.
After the sentences were announced, both women told state District Judge Charles Mitchell they had done nothing wrong, insisting Miguel's mother had given him away.
"Justice is not served. We have not hurt no child. We loved and cared for him," Walker said before she and her daughter were handcuffed and taken away by authorities.
Jurors and attorneys for Tanner, 27, and Walker, 51, declined to comment afterward.
Prosecutors told jurors during closing arguments earlier Tuesday that Tanner and Walker neglected Miguel during the eight years they hid him from authorities, denying him appropriate medical care and keeping him out of school.
But defense attorneys countered there was no abduction because the boy's mother sold him to the women and his parents never showed any concern for their son and refused to cooperate with authorities.
The trial was in San Augustine, about 140 miles northeast of Houston, where authorities say Miguel lived part of the time during his kidnapping.
During the trial's punishment phase, both Walker and Tanner testified, asking jurors to sentence them to probation.
"I didn't do nothing wrong," said a tearful Walker. She also told jurors she had very little contact with the boy, saying she was focused more on dealing with various health problems.
But Tanner contradicted her mother, telling jurors Miguel lived with Walker for extended periods of time. Tanner said she never hurt or abused Miguel.
"I didn't know they were looking for him. I didn't know he was missing," she said.
Prosecutors did not present any witnesses during the punishment phase but did ask jurors for a 25-year-sentence for Walker and an eight-year term for Tanner.
Authorities said Tanner, who used to babysit Miguel, took the boy from his Houston apartment complex when he was an infant and that she and her mother kept him hidden in homes in Central and East Texas, renaming him Jaquan.
Dutton said in his closing argument that claims by Tanner and Walker that Miguel was given to them by his mother are not supported by their actions.
"If Ms. Walker and Ms. Tanner had a right to little Miguel, why wasn't he in school?" he said. "Why didn't you get the rest of his immunizations? Why didn't you take him to the dentist? They knew they didn't have that right. They knew they couldn't put that baby out in the public eye." Continued...