Courthouse Protesters in Victorville Demand Justice

Three times, a mother says she asked for a restraining order. She was never granted one. Now, her infant son is dead.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    Demonstrators gathered Monday outside a courthouse in Victorville, calling for a family law judge to resign.

    They say they are outraged that judge Robert Lemkau refused to grant a restraining order against a man who later killed his son, and then himself.

    About 100 protesters lined the sidewalk Monday, carrying signs reading, "Lemkau is a Baby Killer," "There is no Justice," and "Justice for Wyatt." They chanted, "Lemkau must go."

    "This is indicative of the sense and ire of the community. It's outraged," said demonstrator Alan Boinus.

    In January, Lemkau denied a motion for supervised visitation in a bitter custody dispute between Yucca Valley resident Katie Tagle; her 9-month-old son Wyatt; and the baby's father, Steven Garcia of Pinion Hills.

    Lemkau called Tagle a "liar" in court when she tried to get a restraining order against her estranged boyfriend. Despite Tagle's warning to the judge that Garcia threatened to kill their baby, Lemkau approved visitation.

    Ten days later, deputies found Garcia and the couple's infant son shot to death in a car in the San Bernardino Mountains in an apparent murder-suicide. Garcia had posted a suicide letter on Facebook stating, "So this is goodbye," and "I am so sorry."

    "He started having those crazy thoughts, and I tried to go three times to get a restraining order and was denied every time. And I had evidence every time," said Katie Tagle at Monday's demonstration.

    Tagle met several other mothers there who claimed to have experienced similar problems in Lemkau's family law court. All of them are demanding that the judge step down.

    Mother Jennifer Wagner had been in court the same day as Tagle. "By the time he was done with her I was in tears. I did not want to go up there and talk to him. I thought he was going to call me a liar because of what happened to me with my husband. He was pretty quick. I didn't say much, I was too scared," Wagner said.

    Lemkau eventually did apologize to Tagle, after the murder-suicide. He has not made any other public remarks.

    "I would love it if he would come out here and say that he's going to resign, or if he announces it later. Or he can be voted out. I really hope he doesn't get re-elected," Tagle said.

    "This could have all been prevented. That's the tragedy of this. It's brought the community together like I've never seen," added protester Alan Boinus.