Elizabeth Johnson Skips Court Again. Hearing Rescheduled Again

Once again, Elizabeth Johnson, the mother of missing baby Gabriel Johnson, was supposed to be in court this morning. Once again, Johnson didn't show up, despite the fact that she's in the custody of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

Court officials tell New Times Johnson was supposed to be in court this morning for a hearing to determine whether she's competent to stand trial. Court spokesman Karen Arra says the deputy in the courtroom said Johnson "refused" to attend the hearing.

Judge Paul McMurdie said in court this morning that five doctors have evaluated Johnson, but they are not in agreement as to whether she is "restorable to competency."

McMurdie set a new hearing date for August 11. Johnson, he says, "must" be there.

This is now the fourth time Johnson's refused to show up for court.

In April, the judge told Johnson she "has to be present for a status conference on May 2" -- which is exactly what he told her when she skipped court -- for the second time -- a month earlier.

Last March, Johnson, who's charged with abuse and kidnapping in the December 2009 disappearance of the baby, refused to attend a hearing for motions, including the designation of counsel, which cannot be ruled on without the defendant in court.

Arra told New Times at the time that Johnson opted to stay in jail rather than attend the hearing. The next week, however, Johnson didn't have that option.

Judge Timothy Ryan, who was then hearing the case, rescheduled the hearing, and gave
the Maricopa County sheriff's deputies responsible for transporting Johnson carte blanche when it came to making sure her butt was in the courtroom -- and it was.

According to Arra, Judge Ryan told deputies to use "any means necessary" to get Johnson to court -- and that's apparently the case for her upcoming competency hearing.

Johnson was initially ruled incompetent to stand trial in June of 2010. She was then ruled competent in September of 2010, but in May was ordered to undergo another psychological evaluation, the findings of which will be used to determine whether she's competent to stand trial.

Johnson has been in jail since January after she failed to show up to a December custody hearing.

Johnson, police say, disappeared with Gabriel and went to San Antonio, Texas, where the baby was last 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 random couple she met at a park in San Antonio.

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James King
Contact: James King