FORT WORTH, Texas - The man accused of kidnapping a girl from a Fort Worth street went to trial in federal court Tuesday.
Michael Webb, 51, faces a federal kidnapping charge. He will also face trial in state court for aggravated assault of a child and indecency with a child, as well as a state kidnapping charge.
The mother of a young girl who was at the center of an Amber Alert explained how she fought to keep the girl's kidnapper from taking her.
Prosecutors say Webb admitted he took the girl from her mother in May and then took the girl to a hotel.
Hours after the girl was taken, police arrested Webb at a motel in the Fort Worth suburb of Forest Hill. Officers pulled from the room at gunpoint. He was naked and the girl was hiding in a basket in the room.
Prosecutor Erin Neely Cox and her team called the little girl's mother as the government's first witness. FOX 4 is not using her name to protect her daughter's identity.
In a bizarre twist before the mother testified, Webb waived his right to attend his own trial. He sat in a court holding cell after telling the judge: “I don't want to be here."
Attorney Trent Loftin is not involved in the case. He calls it a bad idea.
“It's very rare an individual is going to choose not to be in his own trial. When a jury looks over and sees an empty chair, they're already getting a guise in their mind about guilt or innocence,” Loftin said. “This could very badly adversely affect the defendant in the defense of this case."
On the stand, the girl’s mother recalled with vivid detail how she was housesitting on May 18 for a friend and took her 8-year-old daughter for a walk that turned out to be terrifying. The last few seconds of the kidnapping were caught on video by a homeowner's doorbell cam.
The mother says the man approached them twice. The first time, they went the opposite direction when he stopped and said: “Hey, come holler at me." She told him: “No, thank you. We're good."
The mother says a few minutes later on a different street, her back was to the roadway as they played with leaves in the water. She says she heard a car stop and the same man matching the description of Michael Webb got out and approached them.
The mom says Webb asked her: “Do you like money?” When she said she wasn't interested and moved away to shield her daughter, she says he lunged forward.
"He gets her and throws her into the car. I jumped into the car. I'm on his lap. I'm screaming telling him to stop,” the mom recalled. “He's saying, ‘Get out of the car b***.’ He takes off with the door open, and he's still pushing me out of the car now for the second time."
Tuesday’s testimony continued with one of the good Samaritans who spent hours searching for the girl after the Amber Alert was issued and two Fort Worth police officers who responded to the Wood Spring Suites in Forest Hill.
The prosecution introduced hotel security video showing Webb carrying the girl up the stairs to his hotel room. The jury also watched body camera video as police entered the hotel room and discovered the girl hiding in a storage bin.
Homeland Security Special Agent John Kochan was brought to tears recounting the moment he saw the little girl standing in front of him.
“She was obviously in shock,” Kochan said.
The defense team declined to ask the witnesses any questions for cross-examination.
Webb has additional state charges pending against him. Loftin explains a possible strategy toward expediency.
"This offense occurred three and a half months ago and we're already to a jury trial,” Loftin said. “If this was in the state court, we'd be at least a year away with everything else going on.”
The trial is expected to run through the end of the week. If convicted on the federal charge, Webb is facing a potential life sentence.