MADISON, Wis. (AP) — An FBI expert testified Monday in the trial of a Colorado woman accused of kidnapping her newborn nephew in Wisconsin and abandoning him in freezing temperatures, saying visits to websites about fake pregnancy bellies were found on computers seized from the woman’s home.
Kristen Smith, 31, of Aurora, Colorado, faces one count of kidnapping in federal court. She could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted by a jury in Madison.
FBI forensic computer examiner Kelly Kolecheck testified that other websites visited by a user on Smith’s computer offered advice on how to get a birth certificate for a newborn and how to breastfeed an adopted baby, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
Prosecutors argue that Smith kidnapped days-old Kayden Powell from the town of Beloit home where his parents were staying in February. The baby was later found alive in a tote behind a gas station in Iowa.
In an opening statement Monday, Smith’s defense attorney, Matthew Noel, said the father of the newborn told Smith she could take Kayden back to Colorado with her because the boy’s parents would be following him to Colorado in a few days to start a new life together.
Noel said that Bruce Powell, the father, asked Smith not to wake the baby’s mother, Brianna Marshall, as she took the baby early on Feb. 6, because Marshall was recovering from a painful cesarean section.
In her testimony Monday, Marshall said she and Powell had agreed to Smith’s offer to move to Colorado, according to the newspaper. She testified that they packed many of Marshall’s belongings into Smith’s car and Smith was to take them to Colorado and then return to pick up Marshall, Powell and Kayden.
Marshall also said Monday that she at first suspected that her half brother had something to do with the boy’s disappearance because he didn’t like Powell and was trying to prevent Marshall and Powell from moving.
Marshall testified that she called Smith after discovering that Kayden had vanished and that Smith sounded shocked and told her to call 911.
In her opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Pfluger said Beloit police quickly put out the word about the missing boy. Contacted on the road in West Branch, Iowa, police told Smith they want to talk to her, so she put the boy in a plastic tote and left him behind a gas station in the sub-zero weather, intending to retrieve him later, Pfluger said.
Police found that Smith had an active warrant from Texas and arrested her. She denied knowing where Kayden was for 30 hours. The West Branch police chief eventually found the tote and Kayden inside.
FBI agent Jennifer Jostes testified that after Smith’s arrest she and other agents searched Smith’s home in Aurora and found an application for a birth certificate for a Kaysin Michael Smith that was signed by Smith but not dated.
Smith’s trial is scheduled to last through the week.