The possibility of getting Maricopa’s so-called “YouTube Mom” into a courtroom is as remote as ever after a Rule 11 hearing Tuesday.
Machelle Hobson, 48, was indicted in March on charges of child abuse and kidnapping. The Hobson/Hackney family ran a profitable YouTube channel called “Fantastic Adventures” that featured mostly the younger children in family-friendly videos.
However, allegations surfaced this year that Hobson’s seven adopted children were being forced to appear in the videos under threat of physical violence, being pepper sprayed, having food and water withheld and being locked in a closet. Hobson now faces 22 charges in the case.
After Hobson’s arrest, she was hospitalized, deemed not competent to stand trial by a psychiatrist and was released from custody. Ever since, she has received waivers allowing her not to make physical appearances in court.
Judge Lawrence Wharton in Pinal County Superior Court’s Rule 11 court said clinical psychologist Celia Drake “is now asking that an assessment be done to determine the most appropriate location for the restoration process to be continued.”
The Rule 11 court oversees the process of returning an incompetent defendant to competency.
Pushing for progress in the next 60 days, Wharton sought a strategy that would clear medical obstacles in the restoration process. When he was on the verge of turning the decision over to Drake, defense attorney Joshua Wallace had other ideas.
“Dr. Drake probably isn’t the most appropriate person to conduct these evaluations that she wants done,” Wallace said. “She does say that perhaps another medical psychiatric evaluation needs to be completed. She’s not a psychiatrist or a medical doctor.”
That leaves the court searching for suitable individual or location to place Hobson for evaluation. Wharton set a date of Jan. 8 to review the restoration of competency, but he wants work done in the meantime.
“I don’t want 60 days to slide by and not make a whole lot of progress.”