- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Kidnapping defendant: Dad asked her to take child

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Colorado woman accused of kidnapping her half sister’s newborn in Wisconsin and abandoning him in Iowa testified Wednesday that she took the 4-day-old at the father’s request, knowing the parents would be moving in with her in the next few days.

Kristen Smith also testified that when she left the boy in a plastic tote outside in freezing temperatures, she put him by the front corner of a gas station so she could make sure his electric blanket was plugged in.

Smith, of Aurora, Colorado, is charged with kidnapping Kayden Powell on Feb. 6 and abandoning him in Iowa. A police chief found Kayden alive and well after the boy spent 29 hours in subfreezing temperatures.

Smith testified that her 18-year-old half sister, Brianna Marshall, had been having problems at home. Marshall’s mother kicked her out of the house, Smith said, and with nowhere to go she hoped to move to Denver to be with Smith and go to college.

The plan was for Smith to drive home to Colorado, with Marshall joining her a few days later along with the baby’s father, 23-year-old Bruce Powell, Smith testified.

They all spent the night at the home of the baby’s great-uncle, Mark Bennett, in the Town of Beloit. Smith said she decided to leave at 2 a.m. to avoid driving through larger cities at hours when traffic would be worst.

Smith said she swaddled the baby and handed him to the father, but when she went to hug Powell goodbye he swayed unsteadily.


Kidnapping defendant wails on stand, prompts break

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The federal trial of a Colorado woman accused of kidnapping her half-sister’s newborn in Wisconsin and abandoning him in Iowa has been halted briefly after the defendant began sobbing uncontrollably on the witness stand.

Kristen Smith of Aurora, Colorado, testified Wednesday that she took the baby at the father’s urging, since the parents were planning to move in with her.

Under cross-examination, she 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.


Milwaukee church bankruptcy headed to mediation

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A federal judge ordered mediation Wednesday in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s bankruptcy case, saying she believed it was the best bet for resolving the hard-fought case and keeping more money from going to lawyers rather than sexual abuse victims.

The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in January 2011, saying it would not have the money to pay if it lost lawsuits filed on behalf of victims of clergy sexual abuse. More than 500 abuse victims have since filed claims in bankruptcy court.

A reorganization plan proposed by the archdiocese earlier this year would give 128 victims roughly half of an $8 million insurance settlement. Others who have filed claims would receive nothing. Meanwhile, attorneys’ fees are now estimated at $13.7 million, and victims have been outraged by the idea that attorneys would receive more money than them.

Bankruptcy Judge Susan Kelley said during a morning hearing that she would likely issue a written order later in the day for mediation to take place in early September.

“The point of this is to try to negotiate a resolution quickly and stop the legal fees,” she said.

A mediation attempt in 2012 failed, in part because the archdiocese maintained there were too many issues to hash out. A sticking point this time could be whether the archdiocese’s former insurers participate.

But discussions will likely focus on a $55 million cemetery trust fund created by New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan when he was the Milwaukee archbishop. Victims have hoped to tap into the fund for compensation, but the archdiocese says the money was given for cemetery maintenance and can only be used for that purpose.


Ryan says he’ll consider White House bid next year

WASHINGTON (AP) - Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan said Wednesday that he won’t seriously consider a Republican presidential bid until next year, saying he wants to stay focused on his work in Congress and talk with his family before making any major decisions.

The congressman and 2012 vice presidential candidate said there “really aren’t deliberations” about a potential campaign. Instead, he said, his focus has been on finding ways to fight poverty, which culminated in several policy proposals he outlined last week.

“I’ve been doing my job, focusing on the here and now, 2014,” Ryan said during a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor in Washington. He added that until next year, “I’ve consciously decided not to think about my personal ambitions or personal career moves.”

Ryan said he would sit down at some point next year with his wife, Janna, and determine whether he would make a White House bid or stay in Congress.

Ryan also talked about what he described as a lack of truck between House Republicans and the White House, faulting President Barack Obama for the divide. He said Obama’s actions more than justified House Republicans’ recent lawsuit challenging Obama’s use of executive authority.

But Ryan was also careful to dismiss the idea of impeachment. He said the lawsuit reflects frustration among members of his caucus about not being able to use their control over the budget to reign in Obama, but that it “does not rise to the high crimes and misdemeanor level.”

He blamed recent impeachment talk on Obama and the president’s advisers, saying they stoked the issue to boost fundraising in an election year.

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