Tarrant County Clerk cited for assault in domestic dispute

Posted Friday, Jul. 25, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Mary Louise Garcia, Tarrant County Clerk

• Garcia took office as Tarrant County Clerk, her first elected position, in 2011. Her office is responsible for the maintenance of records, including birth certificates, marriage licenses, death certificates and home and property deeds. It also provides administrative support for 15 courts, maintaining records for criminal and civil cases and probated estates, according to the county’s website.

• She previously worked as a senior administrator for the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office and, before that, owned a public relations firm.

• She serves on several local and state boards, including the Texas County and District Retirement System’s board, to which she was appointed to by Gov. Rick Perry in October.

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Tarrant County Clerk Mary Louise Garcia was cited last month for assault following a domestic disturbance with her husband at their Fort Worth home, the Star-Telegram has learned.

Chris Garcia, 53, had called Fort Worth police to the couple’s Ridglea home about 2:50 a.m. June 8, alleging that his wife had hit him repeatedly.

Police cited Mary Louise Garcia, who is running unopposed for re-election this November, for assault by offensive contact, a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.

The case remains open, to be set for court, municipal court officials said.

The Garcias are now in the midst of a divorce in which Chris Garcia is accusing his wife of adultery.

Mary Louise Garcia, 48, called her husband’s allegations and version of events of the June 8 incident “rumors” and “his opinion.” She declined to comment further until consulting with her attorney.

Her attorney, Lance Evans, said his client’s citation is the “equivalent of a traffic ticket.”

“Mrs. Garcia believes that the Fort Worth Police Department acted appropriately and professionally in this matter,” Evans said in an email. “She looks forward to her day in Municipal Court, where I am confident that she will be exonerated of any wrongdoing.”

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley did not return a phone message and emails sent by the Star-Telegram requesting comment on the citation.

The office of Tarrant County Clerk is responsible for maintaining a wide range of county records, from birth certificates to property deeds.

‘No clue it was coming’

Chris Garcia, who owns a car dealership on Camp Bowie Boulevard, said that the alleged assault occurred a little more than a month after his wife devastated him with the news that she wanted a divorce.

Chris Garcia, who said the couple would have celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary this past Tuesday, said he was shocked by the news.

“I had no clue it was coming,” he said. “… We have always been best friends. Up until early this year, they’d been wonderful, great years for which I’m very blessed.”

He said his wife requested that they continue to live together and put on a public image that their marriage was fine until they could break the news to their two daughters after their oldest girl’s college graduation. He said his wife told him they could then get a “sealed” divorce but still remain best friends.

Chris Garcia said he went along with “playing house,” believing his wife would change her mind in the meantime.

“I knew there was no way in the world we would not reconcile,” he said.

Evans said Mary Louise Garcia is unable to make any comment concerning “Mr. Garcia or her marriage,” per temporary orders from the family court that both she and her husband agreed to.

‘Started shoving me’

The alleged assault occurred shortly before 3 a.m. June 8 at the couple’s home, according to a Fort Worth police report.

Chris Garcia said that earlier that night he and his wife had thrown their daughter a graduation party at Montgomery Plaza. He said that both had been drinking and that he was stressed out throughout that night.

“I was very upset because I know tomorrow is the end. Tomorrow is the day we’re supposed to tell the girls we were getting a divorce,” he said.

After the party, he said, he first visited a friend’s house, ignoring texts from his wife asking him what his problem was and why he wasn’t home to help unload. He said he drove home about 2 a.m. and sat in his Cadillac Escalade in the driveway, prompting the family’s dog to start barking.

“Mary Louise came out mad as a hornet,” Chris Garcia said. He said his wife asked why he was sitting outside, then went back into the house after he answered that he was “just thinking.”

Chris Garcia said he entered the house about 30 minutes later with the intent of just going to bed. But he said his wife yelled at him as he entered the bedroom where they had been continuing to sleep together.

“What the hell are you doing here?” he said his wife screamed at him before demanding that he sleep elsewhere.

When he countered that he intended to sleep in his own bed, he said Mary Louise Garcia “started shoving me down the hallway.”

“I didn’t touch her. I go, ‘That’s assault’ and called 911,” Chris Garcia said.

Chris Garcia said he remained on the line with dispatchers as his wife called her parents to the home. When two patrol cars drove up, he claims his wife ran outside, quickly introducing herself to the officers as “Mary Louise Garcia, County Clerk.”

“Really, you’re going to start that?” Chris Garcia said he remarked.

He said the officers separated the couple, questioned them, and then cited his wife. During the ordeal, he said, the couple’s two daughters returned home and a third police car soon rolled up.

“You’re trying to have our mother arrested?” Chris Garcia said his daughters asked him.

“I said I want her to go to jail. I said if it was me, the other way around, I would already be in the car going downtown,” Chris Garcia said.

He said his wife, however, was allowed to leave with their daughters.

Divorce filings

On June 12, Chris Garcia filed for divorce from his wife, stating in his petition that the couple, married since July 1989, had ceased to live together on June 8 — the day of the alleged assault.

Under grounds for divorce, Chris Garcia stated he was “left with no choice” but to file because the marriage had become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities.

My wife “informed me that she wanted to get a divorce and she has moved out of the marital residence, although I would still prefer to reconcile,” Chris Garcia wrote.

Mary Louise Garcia has since counter-sued for divorce.

Chris Garcia later amended his divorce petition to include the allegation that Mary Louise Garcia had committed adultery, court records show.

He said he made the amendment after learning from a mutual friend that Garcia was having an affair with a person who was an employee in the county clerk’s office.

The divorce case remained pending Thursday.

Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655 Twitter: @deannaboyd

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