TWIN PEAKS — Sunday’s murder-suicide was the culmination of months of threats and online and text rants from Stephen Garcia to Katie Tagle of Yucca Valley and her family. [...]If this boy hadn't been murdered then this case likely would have been added to Judge David Mazurek's perceived experience with one party (the mother) trying to gain an advantage over the other in a custody dispute. Then it too could be used to rationalize disregarding testimony which was truthful and accepting testimony which was false.
At that hearing, on Jan. 12, Tagle went before Judge David Mazurek in the Joshua Tree courthouse to show cause for a restraining order.
“…On Dec. 31, we were doing our exchange, and he proposed to me, and I said no. He got angry and stole my phone and pushed me down. I made a police report about that,” Tagle told the judge, according to a transcript.
Garcia told the judge the report was “falsely made up.”
Mazurek denied Tagle the restraining order.
“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.
“He would have both of us still,” Tagle responded.
Asked about an e-mail in which he confessed to hitting Tagle, Garcia told the judge he had slapped her during a fight, but it was Tagle’s fault for “pushing and pushing and pushing until she could get something from me.”
Tagle pointed out she was nine months pregnant when Garcia hit her.
“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.
Judge Mazurek had a man who confessed to committing an act of violence in an email and who then repeated that confession to him directly and yet that judge still couldn't see this woman's allegation as even possibly true. All he could see was his stereotypes about those who report violence when there is a pending child custody issue.
This judge had a man who claimed that the allegations were falsely made up confess to violence and that judge couldn't see any reason to criticize that man for his actions. The fact that violence can interfere with a mutual agreement on child custody and can lead to a dispute doesn't seem to be even a possibility on Judge Mazurek's radar.
When the truth isn't viewed as a possibility that is bold-faced incompetence.
But the reported mishandling of this case continued. After this hearing Stephen Garcia sent Katie Tagle a text message telling her to check her email where she found an email sent anonymously which contained a story with 2 endings which she correctly viewed as a threat to her son's life if she didn't do what this man demanded.
The deputy who responded to her 911 call is to be commended for seeing this as a serious matter and working to get her an emergency restraining order. But the judge who reviewed this emergency order, Judge Robert Lemkau refused to uphold it and ordered this woman to immediately give her son to a man who had threatened indirectly that he would murder that boy.
Transcripts from that hearing are not yet available, but family and friends who were in the court that day with Tagle said the judge appeared not to have read the evidence she presented, including the “Necessary Evil” story and the emergency restraining order obtained by a sheriff’s deputy.Stephen Garcia didn't immediately murder their son but these false accusations from 2 judges caused this concerned mother to stop fighting the system which had clearly sided with her abuser. She was likely afraid that if she continued to tell the truth that her son would be taken from her permanently.
“Just from the very beginning, he didn’t want to listen,” said Rick Tagle, who was in the courtroom. “He started out by saying, ‘One of you is lying and I think it’s you,’ and pointing at Katie. ”The judge also allegedly warned Tagle there would be consequences for lying.
In the end that's what these judges actions did. These 2 ruling took this innocent child from his mother forever and ended any chance this innocent child had of growing up happy and healthy or in growing up at all.
Both of these judges should be immediately blocked from hearing any cases where abuse is alleged pending the completion of ethics reviews and review of all their domestic violence cases. If the reported bias in evaluating the evidence or failing to evaluate the evidence is confirmed then both these judges should be removed from the bench. If either of them are also attorneys they should face ethics reviews by their state bar associations.
This case shows clearly that lives can be at stake when judges make their decision based on bias rather than evidence.