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Lynn man whose son vanished back in court

Judge to decide soon whether to dismiss charges

Gonzalez, pictured in court in May, is now being held at Bridgewater State Hospital.
Gonzalez, pictured in court in May, is now being held at Bridgewater State Hospital.ARAM BOGHOSIAN FOR THE GLOBE

SALEM – An Essex County Superior Court judge said he will decide by Nov. 20 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, has been in jail or a secure mental hospital for five years, since his 5-year-old son Giovanni disappeared after a weekend visit in Lynn.

Gonzalez was charged with parental kidnapping and misleading investigators.

Three months after his son’s disappearance, Gonzalez confessed to a Globe reporter that he killed Giovanni during the weekend visit, dismembered his body, and disposed of it in garbage receptacles around the city. Despite extensive searches by law enforcement officials, Giovanni was never found. Gonzalez was not charged with killing his son.


Ernesto Gonzalez, Jr., and his son, Giovanni.
Ernesto Gonzalez, Jr., and his son, Giovanni.handout / File/handout

Gonzalez appeared in a Salem courtroom Tuesday wearing an oversized denim jacket and a dazed expression, 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 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.

He is currently being held in Bridgewater State Hospital.

Sobelman argued that charges against Gonzalez should be dismissed under state law that allows defendants who are declared incompetent to move for dismissal when they have served half the maximum sentence they would have received if convicted.

“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 Assistant Essex 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.

Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com.