SALEM — Parental kidnapping and obstruction of justice charges against a Lynn father whose 5-year-old son disappeared in 2008 were dismissed yesterday by a Salem Superior Court judge, who ruled that under the law, he had no choice.
Ernesto Gonzalez has been deemed incompetent to stand trial. Under state law, he was entitled to a dismissal of the charges after he had served half of the maximum amount of time he would potentially have faced if sentenced after a conviction, in this case, 10 years.
Yesterday’s ruling does not mean Gonzalez will be released. He is both involuntarily committed as a psychiatric patient and being held without bail in another pending criminal case at Bridgewater State Hospital.
Gonzalez has been in custody for longer than that, since his August 2008 arrest.
That month, Daisy Colon, the mother of Giovanni Gonzalez, told police she dropped off the boy to spend a weekend with his dad, who had recently decided to re-enter the boy’s life.
But when she returned, there was no sign of the little boy.
Ernesto Gonzalez, 41, purportedly confessed to killing the boy to a Boston newspaper reporter months later, but investigators do not believe his claims and have not charged him with murder.
In his decision yesterday, Judge John Lu rejected the argument of prosecutors that the calculation of time served should start with the formal determination of incompetency, or barring that, that Gonzalez remain in custody until it can be conclusively determined that he cannot be made competent.
The judge suggested that recent records from Bridgewater State Hospital, where Gonzalez is both involuntarily committed as a patient and being held without bail in a separate assault case involving an attack on a cellmate at Middleton Jail, show a man who is deteriorating mentally.
Lu noted that as recently as two days ago, Gonzalez was showing signs of disorganized thinking, and in one recent incident outlined in the medical records, he had asked for a knife.
“He is experiencing psychosis, including active hallucinations and delusions,” Lu wrote in his decision. “The records are replete with similar references. The defendant may not be restored to competence.”
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.