Mother sentenced to 180 days in baby snatch case

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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A Vancouver woman was sentenced today to 180 days in jail for running off with her then 5-month-old son in November when a social worker attempted to take him into the custody of Washington Child Protective Services.

Summer B. Smith, 36, pleaded guilty today in Clark County Superior Court to first-degree custodial interference, being an accomplice to intimidating a public servant and methamphetamine possession. The latter charge stemmed from an unrelated Aug. 8 incident.

The guilty plea resulted from an agreement between Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino and Smith's court-appointed attorney, Diane Grecco to recommend the 180-day jail sentence. Smith faced up to one year in jail. Judge David Gregerson accepted the recommendation of 180 days. Gregerson also sentenced her to 12 months of probation and court fees, fines and costs.

Court records show that Jaxon was to be removed from his parents' care because of concerns about drug use, domestic violence, inappropriate caregivers and an unsafe living environment. At the time, Smith had already been charged with methamphetamine possession.

When two social workers attempted to take 5-month-old Jaxon into CPS custody Nov. 27, Smith and the baby's father, Kasey R. McKernan, 31, snatched the child and fled in a pickup, according to court records. McKernan allegedly threatened to strike one of the social workers who tried to pursue them.

"Miss Smith was less culpable in ... intimidating a public servant," Grecco said today. "I think she didn't know what to do, so she rolled with it."

The couple eluded authorities for about 10 days. Smith was arrested Dec. 7 at a residence on West 19th Street in Vancouver; McKernan was arrested a day later near Northeast Sandy Boulevard and 112th Avenue in Portland.

McKernan remains in the Clark County Jail on $200,000 bail. His trial on charges of first-degree kidnapping, third-degree assault and intimidating a public servant is scheduled for April 14.

Smith apologized today to the social workers who were involved in the incident.

"I just panicked," she said.

Grecco said today that Jaxon is now in the custody of Smith's sister.