FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A former Marine who attacked his wife in a judge’s chambers during a divorce proceeding received the maximum sentence of 15 years in jail for the beating.
Judge Geoffrey Cohen called Gonzalez’s actions “an outrage.”
“It was in a court of law where people for hundreds of years have been coming to peaceably resolve their disputes where people have an expectation of safety — certainly where your former wife thought she would be safe,” Cohen told Gonzalez during sentencing. “You chose it as a place to viciously assault her.”
Gonzalez, 29, addressed the court Friday during the sentencing hearing. He and his attorneys wanted the judge to issue a lesser sentence around 4 years in prison.
During the hearing Gonzalez apologized to his ex-wife.
“I hurt the woman I said I loved and I am sorry and I hope that one day she does forgive me,” he said. “I disappointed her. I was not a good husband. I wasn’t a good best friend.”
In addition, a psychiatric expert. who testified for the defense, told the judge Gonzalez suffers from personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and bi-polar disorder.
In February, Gonzalez pleaded ‘no contest’ to charges of beating his ex-wife in April 2011.
The couple was discussing final details about their divorce when Gonzalez lunged at his wife, Catherine Scott, and repeatedly punched her. Bailiffs had to Taser Gonzalez twice to subdue him.
Authorities said he got enraged when the judge ordered him to pay child support for the couple’s two young children.
Scott suffered a broken nose, fractured jaw and concussion.
Scott told the court that she was so badly beaten her kids and others were scared of her.
“I couldn’t even go pick up my children from day care because there were complaints I was frightening the other children,” Scott said.
She said she remains frightened to this day.
“I always feel like someone’s watching me,” she said. “I am constantly on edge. No matter how long Mr. Gonzalez is contained behind bars. I will never feel safe from him. “
Gonzalez’s sister testified that in the days before the beating she contemplated having her brother committed because he threatened to kill himself.
Gonzalez told the court that he failed at being a decent human being.
“I destroyed any chance I had of ever doing what it was that I’ve always wanted to do — and that’s be a father, have a family and a loving wife. Be a loving husband,” he said.
Judge Cohen also apologized to Scott.
The judge questioned why a family court judge denied Scott a restraining order prior to the beating. The judge also wondered why that judge did not have an armed sheriff’s deputy in his chambers during the contentious divorce hearing.
“Under very emotional circumstances the fact that there was no security in place, frankly, is inexcusable,” Judge Cohen said.
Gonzalez heads to prison and his attorney fears he will not get the help he needs.
“He’s a young man who has some serious mental health illnesses that need to be addressed and by sentencing him to the maximum sentence surely will not help that,” said Swickle.