Fort Worth

Judge: Court never heard mental health claims in divorce involving murder-suicide suspect

The divorce between Justin and Amanda Painter was finalized in March.
The divorce between Justin and Amanda Painter was finalized in March.

A family court judge disputed claims Friday that her court ignored warnings about the mental health of a man suspected in the shooting deaths of his three children and ex-wife's new boyfriend in Ponder.

In a statement, 322nd District Court Judge Nancy Berger said no hearings were even held in the uncontested divorce and that, in a mediation agreement, both Amanda and Justin Painter denied any family violence and mental health issues.

The statement was issued to address claims made in a Facebook Live video by Amanda Painter, also known as Amanda Simpson.

Justin Painter and Simpson had just been granted a divorce in March.

On Wednesday, law enforcement officials say Justin Painter shot Simpson, their three children and Simpson's boyfriend before turning the gun on himself. Only Simpson survived.

In one of the videos made from her hospital bed, Simpson says she is "extremely mad" at the judge who handled her divorce.

Amanda Simpson Facebook Live
Amanda Simpson spoke in a Facebook Live post about the shooting of her children, her boyfriend and herself on Wednesday by her ex-husband. Screenshot Facebook

"Because I don't know if anybody knows, but Justin tried to commit suicide a year ago. And I made it very clear to the judge that he was mentally unstable," Simpson says in the video. "And they didn't listen, so now I don't have my babies. You guys know they were my everything, my purpose to breathe."

Berger.jpg
Nancy Berger, Judge of the 322nd District Court Star-Telegram archives

In her statement, Berger said "the court's file is clear that no court hearings were held in this divorce."

"Amanda and Justin Painter waived contested divorce hearings in both the Associate Judge's court as well as in the District Court," she wrote. "The parties and attorney drafted and signed their own temporary orders and mutual injunctions which were then approved and signed by the Associate Judge."

She said the couple chose to amicably settle and finalize their divorce dispute through a mediator.

"The parties, in their Mediated Settlement Agreement, denied any family violence and mental health issues," Berger wrote. "The only thing the judge was allowed to do under Texas law and her oath was to enter the agreed, binding Decree based on the Mediated Settlement Agreement."

Berger started her statement by expressing her "heartfelt condolences" to the Painter family for the recent loss of their loved ones.

"It is very unfortunate and painful that the breakup of families can be further destroyed in such a senseless manner," Berger wrote.

Simpson did not immediately respond to a message from the Star-Telegram seeking comment regarding the judge's statement.

Denton County Sheriff's Office Capt. Orlando Hinojosa makes a statement on the murder-suicide that happened at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in Ponder, north of Fort Worth.

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