PEORIA , AZ -- On October 6, 2009 Dawn Axsom and her attorney pleaded with Judge Jose Padilla to allow her to leave Arizona with her two-year-old son, Xavier, but Judge Padilla denied the request.
According to court testimony, Axsom’s estranged boyfriend, 28-year-old Gabriel Schwartz, had been arrested twice for DUI, was unemployed, and had made two failed suicide attempts. This prompted Axsom to also file for an Order of Protection against Schwartz.
Judge Padilla granted Schwartz visitation rights, requiring a drug & alcohol and mental health evaluation to be completed within 60-days.
Two weeks after that court appearance, Dawn Axom and her mother Linda were found shot to death in their Peoria home, reportedly by Schwartz, who then turned the gun on himself.
Elizabeth Ditlevson, who works for the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence, says it’s not just Judge Padilla, but other family court judges who don't seem to take domestic violence as seriously as they should.
“Some courts are privileging an abusers access to their children over the safety of the victim parent and the child. We think that that is a huge issue and it needs to change” said Ditlevson.