Day 3 of San Augustine trial: Mother of allegedly kidnapped boy takes stand

Krystle Tanner (Source: San Augustine County Jail)
Krystle Tanner (Source: San Augustine County Jail)

SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - During day 3 of the ongoing kidnapping trial against Krystle Tanner and Gloria Walker, the San Augustine County jury heard emotional testimony from the mother of Miguel Morin who was allegedly kidnapped in Houston eight years ago.

When Miguel was allegedly kidnapped, he was only eight months old.

According to authorities, Tanner and her mother, Gloria Walker, have been on the run from law enforcement since they kidnapped the child, Miguel Morin eight years ago. For eight years, Tanner allegedly hid Miguel Morin in homes all over central and east Texas without letting him go to school or go by his birth name.

San Augustine County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Tanner in August 2011 following reports of negligent supervision of children and abuse that centered on Tanner. During the investigation, one of the SACSO deputies realized that one of Tanner's children was Miguel.

Auboni Morin, Miguel's biological mother, recalled her relationship with Tanner, saying they had been friends since 1998 when Morin's sister-in-law introduced them. She said that friendship ended shortly after Tanner disappeared with Miguel.

"On November 16, 2004, I went to go pick up my son," Morin said. "They weren't there. Krystle and Miguel were gone."

Defense attorney Rudy Velasquez asked Morin about the discrepancies in the dates she reported her son missing. Morin replied that she has no idea why government officials are reporting she filed the missing person's report on three different dates - November 10, November 16, and November 19. She said she filed the report on November 16 adding, "This day is etched in my mind."

Morin said she had allowed Tanner to babysit all of her children multiple times and trusted Tanner. She said her electricity had gone out on November 15 because her husband, Fernando Morin, couldn't pay the energy bill. Morin said she didn't want to keep her children in the dark, so she dropped off her youngest child at the time, Miquel, at Tanner's. Morin says she returned to the Tanner apartment the next morning and was told by Walker that Tanner and Miquel had gone to the store.

Morin said she decided to wait for them to return from the store and went back to the Tanner residence an hour later. Walker told Morin that they were gone, and she didn't know where they went. Frightened, Morin called the police. Once an officer arrived from the Houston Police Department, Morin went back to Walker's apartment. As soon as Walker saw the officer, she became very aggressive and tried to close the door in their faces, Morin said.

During her testimony, Morin said she grew very angry at this time and began kicking Walker's door. Morin says she didn't speak to Walker again for three months until March 2005. Morin said she asked Walker if she had heard anything about Miquel. Walker looked Morin in the eyes and said, "Leave me the hell alone. Your kids are going to end up missing or dead."

Under cross examination by Velasquez, Morin became very upset. She was breathing heavily as the defense questioned her about telling Walker in March 2005 that she was happier without her son and was sorry she had caused problems for the Walker and Tanner family. Morin denied every saying any of this to Walker.

Morin said she moved out of her apartment shortly after Walker threatened her children. She decided to leave her children in the custody of the Aguilar family for their safety and lived inside her car for several months until her husband could afford another apartment.

Morin said she didn't see Miguel again until June 18, 2012. She said he recognized her as his mother but didn't know anything else about their family. She said during the eight years her son was missing, no one from the Houston Police Department or the Tanner family contacted her about the whereabouts of her son. Morin said in 2006 she looked into the National Missing Person's network and noticed a missing person posting for Krystle Tanner. She said Miguel was not listed.

The prosecution addressed concerns from the defense that Morin had given up on looking for her son. Morin said she did not and called HPD 13 times during the first year her son was missing. She said she did not receive any updates from the police and only spoke to three people in the department briefly. She said she had no idea HPD had dropped the case in February 2005. She said the first time she had heard the case had been dropped was two years later in 2007 when she searched the case on the Internet. This was also the first time she heard HPD had found her uncooperative. She says she does not know why they thought she was uncooperative because she would keep in touch with them every week.

In March 2012, Morin received a phone call from Chief Deputy Gary Cunningham from the San Augustine Sheriff's Department saying he had picked up the case and believed he had identified her son. Morin testified that she had never spoken to Cunningham before the phone call. She said three to four days later, Cunningham told her they had picked up Miquel, and he was currently safe with Child Protective Services.

Morin said Miguel is currently with his siblings at the Anguilar's house. She added Miguel is doing great and is in the second grade at a public school in Houston.

A contracted clinical psychologist for CPS in Harris County testified that he performed psychological evaluations on Miguel Morin on March 12, 2012. He said he was called to determine Miguel's intellectual, physical, and mental functions.

"First of all, he thought his name was Jaquan. He thought he was six years old, and he was frightened and confused," the psychologist said. "He didn't understand why he was living in a shelter, and he didn't understand why he wasn't living with the people he had been staying with," the psychologist said.

The psychologist said Miguel seemed underdeveloped intellectually and had trouble reacting to situations. Miguel told the psychologist he had lived with his mom (Tanner), father and papaw. He said he had recently gone to live with his grandmother because his mom had been arrested and gone to jail. The psychologist said Miguel did not act as if he was in any danger. He also said Miguel's IQ was at the very end of average and that his skill level was very low for an eight-year-old. In addition, he said Miguel is having difficulty in school. He doesn't understand the instructions and he is older than his classmates.

The psychologist said Miguel appeared to be anxious. He asked Miguel to draw a picture of his family and he drew a picture of his mom, dad, and papaw. He didn't show any responses to trauma, meaning the psychologist determined Miguel has no evidence of suffering from psychological problems. The psychologist felt if he took Miguel out in the public that it would cause him distress. The psychologist is allowing Miguel to continue to think his name is Jaquan until he is able to comprehend who he really is, and who his family is.

"This case is very interesting because there's no idea how he is going to react when he finds out the truth about what happened to him," the psychologist said. "When he begins to understand it, he might have some adverse effects. Assuming he was kidnapped, and he can't be with his parents, and he thinks these people are his parents and he can't go back to them. He might want to go back to them so we are going to have one confused and anxious child."

The psychologist said he wants Miguel to go under psychotherapy but he doesn't want to do it until Miguel has a support system from family. He needs Miguel to understand who his family is before he can undergo this therapy. He said that if it turns out the Morin's had given Miguel away, Miguel would be very stressed.

"Whatever the truth is for this child, it could cause negative and adverse effects," the psychologist said. "He believed the people he was living with was his true family. He expects to go back to them and it looks like he is going to find out something different."

Tanner's grandmother, Ann Rawlings, testified Auboni Morin wrote Tanner a letter saying she was giving Miguel to Tanner. Rawlings said this letter was destroyed in a fire in 2010. In addition, Rawlings said Morin gave Miguel to Tanner because she didn't want him. Rawlings told Tanner she needed to get this in writing, and Morin wrote the letter. Rawlings claimed Morin told her she was going to make a career out of having babies and giving them to women who couldn't have kids for various reasons.

Tanner's husband, Timothy Jason Taylor, said he first saw Miguel in 2006 at Walker's residence in Manor, Texas. Taylor said he lived with Walker at her residence in 2008 and saw Miguel during those two months. He said Miguel came to San Augustine in June 2011 because Walker brought him to Taylor and Tanner's residence. Taylor says he did knot know Miguel was a missing child. CPS came to his home investigating reports about Taylor smoking marijuana with his newborn son in the house when they noticed Miguel. He said in October 2011, Walker told Tanner to bring Miguel back to her house in Manor.

"I didn't know what was going on; why we had to go from here to there. No one was telling me anything," Taylor said.

More witnesses are expected to take the stand Thursday morning at 9 a.m.

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