Johnson no show in court again; gets new competency hearing


by Kristine Harrington

Posted on August 2, 2011 at 8:01 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 2 at 8:20 PM

PHOENIX –A judge was set to rule Tuesday if Elizabeth Johnson is competent to stand trial.

She is accused in the disappearance of her baby son, Gabrielle, who vanished in 2009 and has not been seen since.

The court has to consider competency issues and the court has to force Johnson to show up.

It is safe to say the judge is losing patience and it’s unclear if this case will ever go to trial. “I think there's a real issue as to whether or not she's restorable,” said Judge Paul McMurdie. “My concern is we've now had five mental health professionals who have evaluated her and determined she is not competent to stand trial.”

Police say Johnson fled with her son to San Antonio, Texas in December 2009. That's the last time and place the baby was seen alive.

While on the run, Johnson sent text messages to the baby's father, Logan McQueary, saying she had killed the baby and put his body in a dumpster.

She later recanted her claims and said she gave the baby to a couple she met at a park in San Antonio.            

Initially Johnson was ruled incompetent to stand trial in June of 2010. Then she was ruled competent in September of 2010 but in May was ordered to undergo another psychological evaluation.

“I realize she was found restored at some point in time between the first and second evaluation but now we've had four or five doctors say she's not competent to stand trial. I want to make sure a plan is in place that will make her restored,” said Judge McMurdie.

Elizabeth Johnson has been in jail since January 2010 and Tuesday she, once again, refused to show up to court.

This is the fourth time Johnson has opted to stay in jail rather than attend a hearing. Next time though the judge says she will not be given a choice.

“She can come here one of two ways. One is much nicer than the other,” said the judge. “This is not a choice.”

Johnson will be back in court August 11 for her competency hearing.

If she is found incompetent she could be ordered to a psychiatric facility instead of facing a jury on kidnapping, child-abuse and custodial interference charges.