Woman accused of leaving baby at West Branch gas station found guilty of kidnapping

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The Colorado woman who was accused of kidnapping her half-sister’s son and abandoning him at a West Branch gas station has been found guilty.

On Thursday, July 31, 2014, Kristen Smith, 31, was found guilty of kidnapping, according to a report by  the Des Moines Register.

According to the report, it took about three hours for a federal jury to deliberate before announcing Smith had been found guilty of kidnapping. She faces 25 years to life in prison.

On Thursday, February 6,  2014, when he was less than one week old, Kayden Powell was reported missing. Officials say the baby was reported missing by his mother, 18-year-old Brianna Marshall.  Marshall had woken up around 4:30 a.m. that day and found that her son was missing from his bassinet.

Marshall told police that Smith had been at her Wisconsin home and had planned to leave at 2 a.m. Thursday to drive back to Colorado.

Previous reports indicate that before 5 a.m. the day Kayden was reported missing, Beloit Police spoke with Smith, who was driving back to Colorado.  She was instructed to pull over at the nearest gas station so that local police could speak with her about the missing child. Smith contacted police around 5:30 a.m. once she arrived at a Kum and Go gas station in West Branch, Iowa.

Court records show that a West Branch police officer searched Smith’s car but did not find Kayden. The officer did find baby clothes, a stroller, and a fake pregnancy belly.

Smith was arrested that morning for an unrelated crime. Shortly after 10 a.m. the next day, a West Branch Police Officer found Kayden behind a BP gas station wrapped in blankets inside of a plastic tote box.  According to court records, Smith later admitted to police that she took Kayden from her sister’s Wisconsin home and had placed him behind the West Branch gas station.

According to the Des Moines Register's report, Smith testified that Kayden's father asked her to take the baby with her when she left that morning. The defense attorney argued that Smith would have no reason to steal a baby since she has her own children already. Smith testified that she lied out of panic.

During the closing arguments, prosecutors reportedly argued that if Smith had permission, she would have no reason to panic.