Judge: Man incompetent to stand trial of missing son

SALEM — The father of a Boston boy missing since 2008 was today declared incompetent to stand trial in the child’s disappearance, raising the possibility that charges will soon be dismissed because the man has already served so much time in jail.

In a 10-minute hearing, Judge Timothy Feeley declared Ernesto L. Gonzalez Jr. incompetent to stand trial on charges of parental kidnapping and lying to investigators in a case that has frustrated investigators and devastated the child’s mother. Giovanni Gonzalez was 5 when he disappeared during a weekend visit with his father in Lynn.

Prosecutor Jean Curran and defense lawyer Russell Sobelman agreed that Gonzalez is incompetent to stand trial for the case involving his son and a separate case involving a 2011 attack on another inmate in the Middleton jail.

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But the next steps are unclear. The prosecutor said the extent of Gonzalez’s illness is unknown because he does not cooperate with his doctors, while the defense is pushing to dismiss the parental kidnapping and lying charges because Gonzalez has been incarcerated since 2008. A hearing on the dismissal is set for Nov. 12.

“It could change one way or another, as future events unfold,” Feeley said, shortly before he declared Gonzalez unfit in Essex Superior Court in Salem.

Even if the charges are dismissed, his lawyer said, it is unlikely that Gonzalez will get out of jail any time soon. He is committed to Bridgewater State Hospital through June of next year, and he is still facing criminal charges in the October 2011 assault on a fellow inmate. He may also face charges in an attack on a prison guard.

Gonzalez, who was arrested shortly after his son disappeared in August 2008 and has been in jail ever since, has been committed to Bridgewater State Hospital since December. He is under a Brockton judge’s orders to take antipsychotic drugs, his lawyer said.

“Clearly, he’s incompetent,” Sobelman said after the hearing. “An attorney can’t go to trial unless his client is competent and can assist him with the trial.”

Curran declined to comment after the hearing, but her office is still pursuing the cases against him.

“It’s not over,” said Carrie Kimball Monahan, spokeswoman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.