The development, disclosed this week in Essex Superior Court in Salem, could mark a significant shift in a case that has frustrated investigators since Giovanni Gonzalez, then 5, disappeared during a scheduled visit with his father, Ernesto Gonzalez, in Lynn.
In November 2008, Ernesto Gonzalez confessed in a jailhouse interview with the Globe that he stabbed the boy to death, dismembered his body, and disposed of the remains in trash bins throughout the city.
The 38-year-old former meatpacker has since pleaded not guilty to charges of parental kidnapping and misleading police and is being held without bail in Essex County Jail in Middleton.
Giovanni’s mother, Daisy Colon, urged authorities yesterday to fight a possible plea until Giovanni is found. She said a reward is still posted for the boy’s safe return.
“I still believe he’s alive,’’ she said in a telephone interview. “I’m not losing my faith that my son is alive.’’
Authorities conducted a massive search for the boy but found no trace of him.
In Essex Superior Court this week, Gonzalez’s defense attorney, Christopher Skinner, asked the judge for a conference on Dec. 29 to discuss a possible plea agreement, which was first reported by the Daily Item of Lynn. Skinner was unavailable for comment yesterday.
It is unclear whether the Essex district attorney’s office would support such a plea. Spokesman Stephen O’Connell would not comment on the matter yesterday, citing the ongoing investigation.
After the confession in 2008, authorities conducted new searches of Gonzalez’s apartment. Subsequent DNA testing found the boy’s blood in his father’s apartment in Lynn, on a red-handled knife, on a piece of wood flooring, on the bathroom threshold, and on the cap to a bottle of pine-scented cleaner.
Gonzalez had resumed weekend visits with Giovanni shortly before the boy disappeared. He had not been in his son’s life for a year because he and Colon differed over his approach to disciplining the boy. He and Colon had planned to work out a formal visitation agreement in court.
But that Sunday, Aug. 17, 2008, when Colon went to pick up Giovanni, Gonzalez denied having the boy that weekend.
Gonzalez was arrested after Colon showed police that they had been in touch by telephone, and later indicted on the current charges. Neighbors also said they saw Giovanni with his father that weekend.
For three months after his disappearance, Gonzalez refused to speak to investigators. Then, in November 2008, he unexpectedly confessed to a Globe reporter that his son had been behaving badly during the visit and that he lost control and killed him. Gonzalez said that he was regretful and that the stabbing just “happened.’’
Giovanni, who lived in East Boston with his mother and younger sister, has been described as an energetic boy who loved to play ball.
His mother dismissed the DNA test results that found Giovanni’s blood in his father’s apartment, saying that he often suffered cuts while playing. She said Giovanni had also suffered a nosebleed during a recent visit with his father.
Colon believed that she spotted her son in October 2008 walking down a Lynn street with a man. Police investigated the sighting, but did not find them.
Gonzalez had previous convictions in 2001 that included assault with a dangerous weapon, a knife.
He was deemed competent to stand trial in January 2010.