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Parents: Didn't suspect kidnapped boy's aunt

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Associated Press | July 31, 2014

MADISON — The parents of a baby boy who was taken from a Wisconsin home and later found in sub-zero temperatures testified Tuesday they trusted the relative now accused of abducting him so much that they initially didn't suspect her.

Kristen Smith of Aurora, Colorado, is charged with kidnapping 4-day-old Kayden Powell Feb. 6 and abandoning him in Iowa. The boy survived.

Smith allegedly took Kayden from her half-sister, Brianna Marshall, and her boyfriend, Bruce Powell, as they slept at Marshall's grandmother's house in the southern Wisconsin town of Beloit. Authorities allege she dumped the child as police closed in on her.

Smith claims she had permission from Kayden's father to take the boy to Colorado.

In their testimony, both Marshall and Powell said Tuesday that they had trusted Smith so much that initially they didn't think she could have been involved in Kayden's disappearance, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

City of Beloit officer Shannon Dykstra reached Smith by phone as she traveled through Iowa, and Smith told the officer she didn't know who took Kayden. At Dykstra's instruction, Smith made contact with a police officer in West Branch, Iowa. Smith had officer Alex Koch speak with Dykstra, who asked Koch to check Smith's vehicle for a child or children's clothing or belongings.

Koch testified that Smith told him she was pregnant, although she wasn't. Smith was arrested when Koch discovered there was an active warrant for her from Texas.

The federal trial was halted briefly after the defendant began sobbing uncontrollably on the witness stand.

Under cross-examination, Smith had trouble answering even simple questions. She said she didn't know where she was born, whether she had any previous convictions or whether she lived in Wisconsin in 2010.

Frustrated prosecutors held a private meeting with the judge and defense attorney, while Smith sat with her sweater covering her eyes. Before questioning resumed she asked for a break, then began wailing as jurors were led from the courtroom.





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