FLORENCE — The saga of a Maricopa mom accused of abusing her children while running a popular YouTube channel has taken another turn, with her competency to stand trial now in question.
At a status hearing Wednesday in Pinal County Superior Court, Josh Wallace, an attorney representing Machelle Hobson, told Superior Court Judge Delia Neal that a doctor had issued findings in a Rule 11 psychological evaluation.
“The conclusion is that Ms. Hobson is not competent,” Wallace said. “There is a recommendation that there is no point in engaging in (competency) restoration services right now.”
Wallace said the doctor wants to revisit the issue in “two to three months.”
A second doctor was scheduled to perform a Rule 11 evaluation on Hobson on Wednesday.
Hobson was not present in the courtroom. According to court records, she is experiencing several health problems that have required medical care.
Prosecutor Kristen Sharifi said she would like a few weeks to present the findings of the second doctor at the next hearing. Neal scheduled another status review for Aug. 28.
Hobson’s story immediately became national news when she was arrested in March due to the combination of graphic details of child abuse combined with a YouTube channel called Fantastic Adventures that had more than 800,000 subscribers and more than 200 million views.
The allegations against Hobson include that she used pepper spray on the children, starved them, locked them in closets, hit and spit at them and pinched a child’s genitals hard enough to draw blood.
As long as the Rule 11 proceedings are ongoing, the case is essentially on hold until the competency issue is decided.
Hobson is charged with 30 counts of abuse, ranging from Class 2 to Class 6 felonies, with some designated by the state as dangerous crimes against children.
The 47-year-old Hobson allegedly pulled her children out of school to perform full-time in adventure videos on her YouTube channel. When they did not perform to her standards, she would punish the five juvenile victims through various forms of abuse.
The YouTube channel was reportedly lucrative, with the videos generating an estimated $142,000 a month, according to website Social Blade.