These kinds of stories leave me completely baffled at the competency of the judicial system. (Warning: Story may be triggering.) Via the Curvature, we find a horrendous case where three judges refused a woman protection from her ex-boyfriend in fear of her and her son Wyatt’s life — not a month later, the man murdered the 9-month old boy before he committed suicide.
In the midst of a custody battle between Katie Tagle and Stephen Garcia, Tagle was trying to get supervised visitation with Garcia. She then requested an emergency restraining order against him after he sent her a text message threatening to kill her and her son. When Tagle didn’t have hard proof of the texts for Judge Debra Harris because her phone was off, the emergency order was denied and a hearing was set. At the hearing, Judge David Mazurek not only denied the restraining order, but completely dismissed the fact that Garcia admitted he had physically attacked her and said they should “work together”:
“If I grant the restraining order, how do you think that’s going to help with respect to you two being able to raise Wyatt together or work together to make sure Wyatt grows up happy and healthy?” the judge asked, according to the transcripts.
“I kind of get an idea of what’s going on,” Mazurek said. He denied the restraining order, saying, “I don’t think that Mr. Garcia poses a threat to Ms. Tagle.” Mazurek went on to suggest Tagle might have ulterior motives for alleging domestic violence. “I get concerned when there’s a pending child custody and visitation issue and in between that, one party or the other claims that there’s some violence in between. It raises the court’s eyebrows because based on my experience, it’s a way for one party to try to gain an advantage over the other,” he said, according to the transcripts.
A day after the hearing, Garcia sent Tagle an email with a “story” about their relationship in which there are two endings: one with the woman returning to the man, and the other with the man killing their child. After rushing to Mazurek with the email, he then gave Tagle a restraining order. But alas, a third judge, Judge Robert Lemkau, refused to uphold the order 10 days later and forced Tagle to give Wyatt to Garcia for visitation. Wyatt was killed nearly two weeks later.
Check out the details to see exactly how this all went down. But when it comes down to it, there were three judges, and multiple incidences of violence as well as threats of murder. Just what is there to question? Cara has some great thoughts on this and the larger issue of a system that perpetuates the notion that women simply can’t be trusted.