TIPTON, Iowa (AP) – A woman charged with kidnapping her half sister’s newborn from Wisconsin wants to “express concern” for her sister, saying she hopes she is recovering from the family’s hardship, her defense attorney said Friday.
Attorney Victoria Noel said her client, Kristen Smith, wanted to publicly show concern for her half sister, 18-year-old Brianna Marshall.
Federal prosecutors in Wisconsin have charged Smith with kidnapping Marshall’s days-old baby, Kayden Powell, on Feb. 6, and leaving him at an Iowa gas station. The boy was found about 29 hours later, alive and well despite the below-freezing temperatures.
“She understands her sister has gone through an ordeal and is hoping she’s doing all right, regardless of what may or may not have happened,” Noel told reporters.
Smith, 31, has been jailed in Iowa since her arrest last week on an outstanding Texas warrant charging her with tampering with government documents. She appeared Friday in the Cedar County Courthouse in Tipton, and waived the right to challenge her extradition to Texas.
Texas authorities now can transport her to face that charge. Judge Stuart Werling ordered Smith to remain temporarily jailed on $50,000 bond, citing the “seriousness of the charges.”
The prosecutor’s office in Tarrant County, Texas, said authorities were interested in extraditing Smith – but that a federal kidnapping case would take precedence.
Federal prosecutors could take Smith into custody any time, and are expected to do so after she is indicted for kidnapping, which could happen as early as next week.
An FBI complaint filed last week alleges Smith kidnapped Kayden in the middle of the night from a home in the Town of Beloit, Wis. Smith had been visiting the home, where Marshall was staying after having given birth Feb. 1. Marshall woke up to find the baby missing and called 911.
Police contacted Smith as she was driving through Iowa and told her to pull over to face questioning at the nearest gas station. An officer met her in West Branch, Iowa, and found baby clothes, a stroller and a car seat – but no sign of Kayden.
Smith denied knowledge of Kayden’s whereabouts, and a massive search along a 170-mile route ensued. She was arrested on the Texas warrant.
The West Branch police chief found the baby a day later in a closed plastic storage bin about 500 yards from where Smith was arrested. The FBI alleges Smith admitted to dropping the baby behind the gas station.
The Cedar County prosecutor filed a child endangerment charge Thursday that echoes the FBI’s allegations.
Noel said Friday her client has pleaded not guilty in that case, adding it’s in the “early stages” and she had not spoken with Smith about the allegations.
“Obviously I think everyone can agree it’s a good thing that Kayden is safe,” she said.
Noel said Smith also wanted to ask for privacy for her own family, saying she is the mother of young children who are “going through a difficult time.” Noel said she didn’t have other details or know where they’re living.
Noel spoke to reporters after a proceeding she called “confusing and unusual.”
A Texas grand jury has indicted Smith on charges of tampering with government documents. She was arrested in Colorado last fall, and released after posting bond.
Noel argued Friday the extradition proceeding in Iowa on the Texas warrant was redundant and should be dismissed. She said her client was making arrangements to handle it in Colorado, where a hearing is set for next month.
Cedar County Attorney Jeffrey Renander said the extradition proceeding should “absolutely not” be dismissed. Werling agreed.
Smith returned to the county jail, where she’s been isolated out of concern for her safety. Noel said Smith would prefer to be with other inmates, but, “the jail staff has her best interest at heart.”