SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

July 30, 2013

Court, doctors mull options for suspect in boy's disappearance

SALEM — Nearly five years after his son Giovanni disappeared during a weekend visitation in August 2008, Ernesto Gonzalez remains hospitalized at Bridgewater State Hospital, his attorneys arguing that he is not competent to stand trial.

But yesterday, Gonzalez’s defense attorney revealed in court that doctors will seek to administer electroconvulsive (so-called “shock”) therapy to the 41-year-old Lynn man, after a new medication regimen recently was determined to be not working.

Russell Sobelman made the statement to a Salem Superior Court judge during a status hearing in the case, during which a judge asked the district attorney’s office to report to him next month whether it will seek a formal competency determination in the case.

Gonzalez is charged with hindering investigators and with parental kidnapping — a charge that was dismissed and later reinstated — in the disappearance of Giovanni, who was 5 at the time.

The boy’s mother, Daisy Colon, dropped her son off at Gonzalez’s Lynn apartment, she told police, and never saw him again.

Gonzalez allegedly confessed to killing the boy to a Boston newspaper reporter, but he has not made any similar statements to law enforcement and has not been charged with killing the boy. Colon has stated publicly that she believes her son is still alive.

Gonzalez is also facing charges that he slammed a fellow inmate’s face into the sink in the cell they shared, leaving the other inmate with severe, disfiguring injuries. He has since been moved to Bridgewater State Hospital.

Doctors there have petitioned a judge to be permitted to administer ECT therapy to Gonzalez, and a hearing on that request is scheduled for Aug. 14, Sobelman said. Such hearings are often held at the hospital where a defendant is being held.

Three psychiatrists have opined that Gonzalez is incompetent to stand trial, but no formal determination of that has been made by a judge.

Salem Superior Court Judge John Lu scheduled a separate hearing for Aug. 19 and asked both Sobelman and the district attorney’s office to indicate in writing whether they will seek a formal competency hearing in the case.

The judge ruled that Gonzalez does not need to be brought to court from Bridgewater for the hearing.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

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