Gonzalez found incompetent to stand trial

SALEM — A Lynn man charged in connection with the 2008 disappearance of his 5-year-old son has been deemed incompetent to stand trial.

“I think it was the appropriate decision by the district attorney and the judge,” Defense Attorney Russel Sobelman said of the ruling. “To the district attorney’s credit, they did the right thing.”

Ernesto Gonzalez was charged with parental kidnapping and misleading investigators in the disappearance of his son, Giovanni.

Giovanni was reported missing by his mother, Daisy Colon, on Aug. 17, 2008 after she went to pick him up from a pre-arranged visit at his father’s apartment on Brightwood Terrace. She found no one at the apartment, and after attempting for several hours to locate her son and Gonzalez, she called police.

Officers eventually entered the apartment through a window and found Gonzalez locked in a bathroom. He denied being with Giovanni all weekend, but witnesses testified to seeing the boy, and police later found traces of the boy’s blood on a knife, the floor and a cleaning can. Giovanni has never been found.

Gonzalez published a confession on Nov. 27, 2008, in which he claimed he killed and dismembered the boy, dumping parts of the boy’s body in various Lynn dumpsters. Colon has previously told The Daily Item she thinks Gonzalez may have conspired with an accomplice to kidnap and transport Giovanni out of the country, then hide him until father and son could be reunited.

Gonzalez has been held in custody for nearly five years.

Sobelman and Assistant District Attorney Jean Curran appeared in Salem Superior Court Thursday and told Judge Timothy Feeley they agreed that Gonzalez be declared incompetent to stand trial. The hearing took only a few minutes, and Feeley approved the request.

The attorneys agreed Gonzalez’s mental health will continue to be evaluated. They also agreed to next appear in court on Nov. 12 to argue for a dismissal to the charges associated with the alleged kidnapping. Under statute, an attorney can request a dismissal for a defendant who has been found to be incompetent for trial and who has been in custody for more than half the maximum sentence of the most serious crime with which the defendant is charged.

In November, Gonzalez will have spent five of the 10-year maximum sentence for misleading investigators in custody, Sobelman said.

But even if granted the dismissal, Sobelman said Gonzalez will remain held under a civil commitment and he also faces the assault charges.

By Cyrus Moulton / The Daily Item