Judge: My supposition is that you’re lying

Stephen Garcia in one of the many photographs he posted on his Facebook pages.

VICTORVILLE — “My supposition, ma’am, is that you’re lying.” Those were Judge Robert Lemkau’s words to Katie Tagle of Yucca Valley as she appeared in his Victorville courtroom Jan. 21, seeking a restraining order that would prevent her ex-boyfriend, Stephen Garcia, from having unsupervised, Thursday-to-Sunday visits with their son, 9-month-old Wyatt Garcia. The judge turned down Tagle’s petition for an ex parte restraining order — a kind of emergency order made without a full hearing.

Ten days later, in the early-morning hours of Jan. 31, Stephen Garcia allegedly shot his son before turning his pistol on himself on a road in the snowy mountains of Twin Peaks.

Contacted several times via e-mail, Lemkau has not responded to requests to comment on the case.

The presiding judge of San Bernardino County Superior Court, Douglas Elwell, said he could not comment on this or any particular case or judge’s performance.

The day after the murder-suicide, Tagle’s family and friends who had accompanied the 23-year-old Yucca Valley mother to the courtroom Jan. 21 described the proceedings for the Hi-Desert Star.

Tagle’s mother, sister and ex-husband claimed the judge appeared not to have reviewed the evidence, including “Necessary Evil,” a story Garcia apparently sent to Tagle describing how he would kill their son and himself.

Also among Tagle’s exhibits: text messages and e-mails Garcia had sent to Tagle and her family members referring to the story’s fatal ending, as well as the emergency restraining order a Morongo Basin sheriff’s deputy had obtained for her and Wyatt the day before.

She provided the court with an e-mail in which Garcia admitted to hitting her, and sheriff’s reports made after he pushed her down during a custody exchange and threatened to kill her.

While the hearing transcripts, obtained from the court reporter Thursday, do not indicate whether Lemkau had reviewed the evidence, he does almost immediately theorize that Tagle is lying. It is not clear why.

After Garcia and Tagle gave Lemkau their names, the judge said, “One of you is lying, and I’m very concerned.”

He confirmed their next mediation date and then said, “I’m inclined to deny your ex parte request. I feel that, if you’re lying, ma’am, there’s going to be adverse consequences.”

He told the two all existing orders remained in full force — supporting Garcia’s unsupervised visitation, which would begin the day of the hearing.

Lemkau went on to tell Tagle, “I think — there’s insufficient evidence in my mind. Mr. Garcia claims it’s a total fabrication on your part.”

He repeated Garcia should have visitation.

“He didn’t threaten to kill our son at that time, though, and now he has,” Tagle said.

“Well, there’s a real dispute about whether that’s even true or not,” the judge replied.

Lemkau repeated to Tagle that Garcia claimed the story, e-mails and texts were “a total fabrication on your part.”

“He sent my mother a text message asking me to go to the lake with him and Wyatt, and when I get home from work at 11, I have these e-mails saying that he’s going to take his life and our son’s life at the lake the next time he gets him,” said Tagle.

Garcia told the judge Tagle’s claims were “little stunts and games” she used to keep him out of his son’s life.

“I’m going to deny it, ma’am,” the judge reiterated. “My suspicion is that you’re lying.”

He told them to go to mediation and return to court for a hearing March 3.

Garcia asked Lemkau if the judge received his paperwork — his defense and claims against Tagle.

“Yes, I did,” the judge replied. “I reviewed it and that’s why I’m — my supposition, ma’am, is that you’re lying, but if I’m incorrect, you can always bring another ex parte motion but don’t misrepresent the situation. If you’re lying about this, there’s going to be adverse consequences. My supposition is that you are lying.”

Almost immediately afterward, court was adjourned. Tagle returned to Yucca Valley, where she picked up Wyatt and, under the judge’s orders, gave him to Garcia for their visitation.

Garcia wouldn’t give son back

Three days after the hearing, her family said, Tagle had to call a deputy to force Garcia to return their son after his visitation.

The following Thursday, Jan. 28, Tagle drove Wyatt to meet with Garcia for their scheduled visitation.

“Stephen kept saying, ‘Make sure you read your e-mail on Saturday,’” Tagle’s mother, Maria Brown of Yucca Valley, later recalled.

She believes Garcia was referring to the five-page suicide letter he e-mailed Tagle Saturday, Jan. 30.

She called 9-1-1 around 2 p.m. after receiving the letter, and Hesperia deputies began searching for Garcia and his son.

A sheriff’s helicopter spotted Garcia’s truck traveling on the snowy mountain roads, but road units were not in close pursuit because the roads were dangerous.

Sheriff’s Lt. Dwight Brink told the Hi-Desert Star’s sister newspaper, the Mountain News, that Twin Peaks deputies who had pursued Garcia after deputies from the Hesperia station had trailed him into the mountains arrived at the scene only seconds after the fatal shots were fired.

“It was hard to keep him in sight,” Brinks added.

The deputies backed off their pursuit in fear that an innocent person might be injured.

There were very treacherous conditions for a chase,” the lieutenant said.

(17) comments

damndawgers

Okay folks,let's try and piece this puzzle together, go figure. What did you get?You say there is something wrong with this picture. HHhhmm I think you may be right. Now here's the sad part, nothing can be done to these judges. Just think, should you ever be in the similiar situation, you better hope it's thier day off. Just maybe a life would be saved. God Bles, respectfully, gerard van der veen

todd1665

This was a total abuse of power by the judge. What a bad ending from a bad decision. Looks like this judge made a fatal dicision with no consequences to pay for. This man should work in a slaughter house.

tkle

Those who lie in court are the curse. Not the judge that has to decipher the mess. I feel bad for the mother. She did whatshe was supposed to.

usmcwife30

It was this judges fault and I hope he loses sleep at night. I know 2 other people that have seen this judge and he's not a very detailed judge that pays attention to the facts. I hope he loses sleep and I hope this haunts him. How much more clear could death threats be and why in the world would he say this poor Katie Tagle was lying. Shame on you judge!

damndawgers

yo h2, i ask you how can she be lying with all the emails etc. he was sending this family? There was to much proof, this judge was inept and needs to retire or whatever respectfully, gerard van der veen

Bob Mateski

Judges should be elected not appointed, if anything this judge should have a jury of his peers review his past cases for judgement and ethics. This is called a judicial review and should be demanded by the mother, she should contact Jerry Brown who is the states Att. General. He, the Govenor or the State Supreme Court are the authorities who can call for the review, if they determine from past cases and this one that he should be placed on judicial probation or removed from the bench then this inept judge is gone. Either way the mother should get a lawyer and file suit on behalf of the child for death attributed to gross judicial negligence. This kind of judgement is unacceptable, judges are supposed to err on the side of caution not make unqualified decisions on a persons motivations or mental state. May God rest this sweet childs soul and may the mother find peace, maybe some help from a lawyer and a professional grief counselor.

michellemjames

SHAME SHAME SHAME on you, Lemkau! This poor baby's blood is on YOUR hands...May God be with any other person entering your courtroom seeking protection from another psychotic individual. It is time to retire, and think FOREVER about what you have done. May God have mercy on your soul. Rest in Peace, Baby Wyatt.

AF2

You CAN do something about this!!!! Lemkau comes up for re-election this year - vote him out.I can not possibly imagine how Ms. Tagle and her family are suffering.

beadwitchen

Cause and affect . If the Judge were anyone else they would be having charges prest against them . I don't care who they are . As a judge you have to listen to both sides of a story . There should have been no problem with someone watching the father . That is what the courts are there for . The judge picked the side of a Father who should have had a 730 Psyc Eval given to him as soon as it was know that threats were being made . . A child would still be alive if an order had been made for one .

booboo77

This is a textbook case of judicial incompetence. To say the least. It could easily be on "60 Minutes".

damndawgers

I was wondering, is there still a hangmens tree around here? hehehe.j/k. respectfully gerard van der veen

AF2

DDA James Hosking put his money where his mouth is today. He paid the $1,800 filing fee to run against Judge Lemkau in June. We all have a chance to prevent this from ever occuring again - vote Lemkau out!

tkle

damndawgers,I'm not accusing her of lying. The facts bear it out and that would be the ultimate insult on my part. She is in too much pain already.What I am saying is that parties openly lie creating a fiasco that the courts have to sort out. A greater penalty for those who do lie would have helped to prove this mother's position. Those who lie in court are responsible. Not the judge.They should be treated as so.They are guilty of murder.

Big Sir

I can't believe that this Judge is allowed on the bench. If this was my family, I would go to the end of my life to make sure he never sat on another bench in the world. I hope this family prosecutes him criminally and sues his butt off!

AF2

h2 - you are right; people lying in court does cause skepticism. But, the judge still failed the child and the system by not taking the time to even consider the evidence or to weigh the possible harm against the inconvenience of delayed visitation or supervised visitation pending further review. We need judges who are willing to consider all of the available evidence ESPECIALLY when the prospect of murder is alleged.damndawggers, there IS a hangman's tree of sorts . . . our system is set up so that the voters can weigh in on a judge's performance. Even if they are appointed, they have to come up for re-election. Lemkau's turn is up and everyone needs to remember this on June 8.

Hmmmm

Blog regarding Judge Lemkau, written by his daughter.

Zagloba

It's very likely Judge Lemkau doesn't use email, doesn't understand email, and is in fact technologically inept. How else could a person look at all of the evidence and make such a foolish statement? Mr. Lemkau will not be re-elected. It's my supposition everything Lemkau says is a lie.

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