Judge Denies Bond For Man Accused Of Attacking Wife In Courtroom
FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – A Broward County Judge ordered a former Marine held without bond Monday on charges that he viciously beat his ex-wife during a court proceeding in the couple’s divorce.
Paul Gonzalez was seeking to have his bond lowered from $1 million on an aggravated battery charge. However, after hearing testimony from Gonzalez’s ex-wife Judge Geoffrey Cohen determined there was no “condition of pre-trial release” to protect the victim.
Gonzalez’s attorney argued that her client had never been arrested for any prior domestic incidents and that the judge couple impose other conditions — like a GPS monitor — to ensure the victim’s safety. The judge refused.
The victim — Catherine Scott — entered the courtroom and did not look at Gonzalez.
Gonzalez turned his chair away from the courtroom to avoid eye contact with his ex-wife. Judge Cohen stopped the hearing to tell Gonzalez to turn his chair back to the court.
On the witness stand, Scott told the judge about a pattern of abuse at Gonzalez’s hands, a series of threatening text messages she received from him after the split and the injuries she suffered during the beating in a judge’s chambers on April 15th.
Scott said she remembers nothing of the attack, which occurred after Gonzalez left Judge Ronald Rothschild’s courtroom then walked back in and is accused of punching her.
She testified she lost consciousness and woke up with paramedics around her.
“My mom was holding my hand, cleaning the blood off my face,” she said. “I was asking about the kids.”
Scott said her injuries were extensive.
“I had a broken cheekbone, a broken nose in two places and many bruises,” she said.
Gonzalez had to be subdued with a stun gun after he attacked Scott. The couple were discussing final details about their divorce when Gonzalez lunged at his wife, and beat her with closed fists numerous times, say prosecutors. The judge, his clerk and Scott’s attorney, Michael J. Dunleavy, all witnessed the attack.
Scott said the abuse started just months after the couple met in 2004. She told the judge about a time she tried to leave Gonzalez just months later.
“Mr. Gonzalez started breaking all of my things, which scared me,” Scott said. “I went to the bathroom. He broke down the door and he dragged me across the living room and threw me out the door and started throwing all my belongings out the front door as well.”
The couple reconciled and were married in September 2006. They had two children.
Scott testified Gonzalez became angry and violent several times a month. Yet she tried to keep the relationship going.
“I loved him and I didn’t want to give up at that point,” she said. “I had children and I wanted to do the best I could.”
Scott said after the couple split, the problems grew worse. She said there were threatening text messages and she accused him of trying to hit her when she met Gonzalez in a public parking lot to drop off the children for visitation.
“He came at me and swung at me while holding our daughter in his arms and my son was standing right there,” she testified.
Under questioning from Gonzalez’s attorney, Dawn Swickle, Scott admitted that she had called the police on numerous occasions to report Gonzalez yet he was never arrested. She also admitted that her request for a restraining order prior to the attack was denied.
Scott said she feared for her safety and the safety of her children if Gonzalez were released from jail.
“If Mr. Gonzalez was capable of doing what he did in front of who he did it in front of, there’s no stopping him,” she said.
Gonzalez is being held at the Broward County Jail. If convicted of the attack, he could face up to 15 years in prison.
Monday’s hearing was a continuation of a bond hearing that began last week. At that hearing, Scott’s mother, Doreen Scott, testified she was not in the courtroom when the attack happened but received a call on her cell phone.
“They said come quickly Paul beat up Katie, and I ran,” said Scott. “When I got there they let me in and I saw my daugther in a pool of blood.”
Scott, who is a registered nurse, says she cleared her daughter’s throat and nose to make sure she could breathe.
“She said where am I mommy and then she went unconscious again,” recalled Scott. “She had to have surgery to put a rod in her jaw so she can chew.”
But Gonzalez’s family and co-workers who packed the courtroom for the hearing insist he is not a violent man.
“When I saw his picture on TV I was shocked,” said his boss Bruce Walker.
Walker says Gonzalez has worked for him for over a year and he’s never seen him violent.
But Walker says Gonzalez seemed, “depressed about his personal life and seemed heartbroken.”
Gonzalez’s mother Edith Beavers at first denied she knew of any violence in the relationship.
But when pressed said there were maybe one or two times when her daughter-in-law called to complain that Paul Gonzalez had become physically violent.
“She’d call me many times about silly things, like he was spending too much time on the computer,” said Beavers. ” She was not a saint. Very manipulative.”