Jury sentences mother-daughter duo in kidnapping - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Jury sentences mother-daughter duo in kidnapping

SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) -

Following emotionally charged closing arguments by the prosecuting and defense attorneys Tuesday, a San Augustine jury found a mother-daughter duo guilty of kidnapping a baby boy from Houston eight years ago and keeping him until they were arrested in August 2011.

According to authorities, Krystle Tanner and her mother, Gloria Walker, had been on the run from law enforcement since they kidnapped the child, Miguel Morin, while babysitting him overnight. For eight years, Tanner allegedly hid Miguel Morin in homes all over Central and East Texas calling him by the name "Jaquan" and allowing him to believe he was younger than he actually was. They also kept him from going to school.

Jurors in San Augustine on Tuesday sentenced Walker to 30 years for injury to a child and eight years for kidnapping, to be served concurrently. Tanner was sentenced to eight years for kidnapping and eight years for reckless injury to a child, also to be served concurrently.

"Justice has not been done here today," Walker said. "Now, I've been cooperative from Day One. You can look at all the reports. My name is Angela Gloria Walker. My daughter is Krystle Rosheann Tanner.  We have not done anything wrong. We have never been in trouble with the law."

San Augustine County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Tanner in August 2011 following reports of negligent supervision of children and abuse after Child Protective Services followed a claim that Tanner's husband, Timothy James Taylor, was allowing his newborn son to smoke marijuana. This is when CPS discovered a bi-racial boy living with the family.

During the investigation, one of the SACSO deputies realized one of Tanner's children was the missing child Miguel

In addition to the kidnapping charges against the two women, Walker was also found guilty of injury to a child, and Tanner was found guilty of a lesser charge of reckless injury to a child.

County Attorney Wesley Hoyt, who is co-representing the prosecution in this trial, told jurors there is no evidence to prove that Miguel Morin ever received proper medical care. He said there is no evidence Miguel received anything except a "false, fictitious name." Hoyt repeated he felt the Houston Police Department failed Miguel.

 "He's going to be nine years old in a few days and he is in second grade," Hoyt said. "If it was up to these folks, this child would still be in Never, Never Land. I understand HPD is deeply embarrassed because the San Augustine Sheriff's Department could do in three days what they couldn't do over eight years. HPD quit on Miguel." 

Hoyt said HPD lost Miguel's file not once, but twice.

"This was just a perfect storm for what happened," Hoyt said, "Just because a kidnapping has no defense. On this child's first birthday he was in captivity. His sixth, seventh, eighth; on his eighth birthday he was still in captivity."

 Hoyt says Tanner and Walker could've nurtured and cared for Miguel, but they didn't. He says if Chief Deputy Gary Cunningham from the San Augustine Sheriff's Department and Child Protective Services hadn't used the resources and manpower to find Miguel, he would still be living in captivity.

Defense attorney Rudy Velasquez, Gloria Walker's attorney, argued, "This is not your typical case by far." Velasquez handed out several pages of exhibits from the case file to the jurors explaining he did not want to talk to them like a lawyer without allowing them a chance to understand the dynamics of the case.

Velasquez returned back to earlier testimony talking about HPD officer Sgt. Michael K. Peters who said he felt Miguel's father, Fernando Morin, had not reacted in a way a worried father would act when he found out his newborn son was gone. Velasquez continued to focus on evidence and statements from the first week of the trial and the HPD report stating Tanner had been taking care of Miguel for several months and that his mother, Auboni Morin, had given her baby to Miguel.

He continued by recounting the discrepancies in the date that Miguel was reported missing saying he has several statements saying Auboni had been trying to get Miguel since November 10, 2004, not November 16, 2004, which Auboni claimed on the stand is the date she reported her son was missing. Velasquez said in the HPD report, Auboni says the electricity in her apartment was turned off in August of 2004 and had been allowing Tanner to take care of Miguel until Auboni could pay her electricity bill.

Velasquez asked the jurors to pay close attention to a report from an HPD officer addressed as Coleman who took the case after Sgt. Peters. He says Auboni made a call to Coleman that she was going on spring break.

"What are we doing here? Are we playing hide and seek?" Velasquez said. "These people are going on vacation, and they are saying their child was potentially kidnapped."

Velasquez says Auboni has been lying from day one and that she was uncooperative with officers and her earlier testimony that she had kept in touch with HPD officers throughout their investigation is false. 

He went back to HPD Officer Jennifer Kauffelt's testimony when she talked about interviewing Juanita Aguillard, the godmother of the Morin children, who says Auboni was receiving benefits for the children even though they were not in her custody.

 "This is not an abduction. What the evidence shows is that she was present. Ms. Morin was willing to sell her child for $200. On my list, I wrote down human trafficking for Morin. That is a crime. Morin lies, and lies, and lies. This is no kidnapping," Velasquez said. "We presented you with the truth. We presented you with two HPD officers."

Tanner's attorney recalled the testimony from Dr. Charles Cleveland, a Houston-based psychiatrist who examined Miguel after his return to foster care. The attorney reminded jurors that Cleveland said Miguel did have an IQ lower than what is expected for an eight-year-old, but he did not show any signs of trauma.

District attorney J. Kevin Dutton, who is co-representing the prosecution, said in his final arguments that the only two people who do not believe this is a kidnapping case are the HPD officers.  He said when he spoke to Kauffelt he asked her to show him how the evidence does not prove this is a kidnapping case. Dutton says Kauffelt couldn't prove that it was otherwise but still believes it is a child interference custody case.

"You know why I didn't bring you the Houston Police Department? Because I showed you the crime," Dutton said. "The reason I wanted to cross examine these HPD officers because I believe, and the evidence shows, they did just as much as the defendants did to keep this child from being found."

Dutton asked the jurors why the defendants, Tanner and Walker, would keep Miguel from school if they had a right to keep that child. He says this shows they were not given the baby, and they knew they had to keep him in captivity to get away with it.

"Krystle Tanner is guilty of intentionally knowingly injuring this child. Gloria Walker is guilty of intentionally knowingly injuring this child," Dutton said. Krystle Tanner is guilty of intentionally knowingly kidnapping this child. Gloria Walker is guilty of intentionally knowingly kidnapping this child. That's justice."

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