A jury found Kristen Smith guilty of kidnapping her infant nephew on Thursday afternoon.
The federal trial for Smith began on Monday after she had been accused of kidnapping her 4-day-old nephew, Kayden Powell, on Feb. 6 and then abandoning him in a plastic crate in below zero temperatures behind a gas station in West Branch.
West Branch Police Chief Mike Horihan testified Tuesday in the kidnapping trial of Smith. Horihan found the newborn Feb. 7 in a plastic box, where authorities believe the child spent more than 30 hours.
“They wanted us to describe the environment, how the baby was placed,” Horihan said Thursday. “How we handled the evidence was pretty critical to the case too.”
West Branch Officer Alex Koch also was called to the stand to describe meeting Smith Feb. 6, when she flagged him down outside the Kum N Go convenience store south of West Branch. At that time, Smith’s half-sister, Brianna Marshall, had just discovered her 4-day-old infant, Powell, was missing from the Town of Beloit, Wis., house where Marshall was staying. Smith had been in the Town of Beloit a few hours prior.
The dash cam video of Koch’s conversation with Smith was also entered into evidence, Horihan said.
Prosecutors called West Branch paramedic Sandy Heick to testify about how she removed Kayden from the plastic box and the boy’s physical condition after being outside for so long, Horihan said.
In all, the three Iowans were on the stand less than two hours, he said. Horihan does not expect they will be called as rebuttal witnesses.
But the highlight of the trip to Madison was seeing Kayden, now about six months old, and meeting his parents.
“Kayden’s family sought us out and let us hold him,” Horihan said. “He was really alert, friendly and smiling. He seems like a happy child.”
The jury deliberated for less than three hours on Thursday before giving the final verdict in the four day trial. Sentencing for Smith will take place on Oct. 27 and she faces 25 years to life.
Smith’s attorney, Matthew Noel, and the assistant U.S. attorney Julie Pfluger, could not be immediately reached for comment.
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