SALEM – An Essex County Superior Court judge promised by next week to decide soon whether to dismiss charges against a former Lynn meatpacker who has been declared incompetent to stand trial in the 2008 disappearance of his son.
Ernesto L. Gonzalez Jr., 41, had been in jail or a secure mental hospital for five years, on charges of parental kidnapping of his 5-year-old son Giovanni and misleading investigators.
Three months after his son’s disappearance, Gonzalez confessed to a Globe reporter that he killed Giovanni during a weekend visit at his home in Lynn.
Despite extensive searches of the Lynn area by law enforcement officials, Giovanni has never been found, and Gonzalez has never been charged with murdering his son.
Gonzalez appeared in a Salem courtroom today wearing an oversized jeans jacket and a dazed look, his eyes darting at every sound.
As Gonzalez watched from a glass-shielded holding area, his lawyer, Russell C. Sobelman, told Superior Court Judge John T. Lu that that his client’s mental health is “spiraling,” and is unlikely to improve.
Sobelman said Gonzalez has been attacking others, including a former cellmate and a correction officer. The Globe previously reported harrowing details of Gonzalez’s history, including a childhood past of torturing cats and twice confessing to killing his son.
He is currently being held in Bridgewater State Hospital.
Citing case law, Sobelman argued that Gonzalez has been held for five years, past the halfway point for a case dismissal for a client whose mental health improvement is slim to none, he said.
He asked the judge to dismiss the case.
“He’s on stronger and stronger medication,’’ Sobelman told Lu. “He’s been put on electric shock for treatment. Every indication seems to be a spiraling situation. … Mr. Gonzalez should not be punished by having this competency issue.”
But Essex Assistant District Attorney Jean Curran argued that Gonzalez was not found incompetent to stand trial until 2010, and asked the judge to use his discretion to not dismiss the charges until Gonzalez’s next evaluation around May or June 2014.
“It’s premature,’’ she said of the dismissal.
Lu said he would take the matter under advisement and issue a ruling on Nov. 20.Meghan E. Irons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.