Domingo Santiago pleaded guilty to “gagging his wife, binding her wrists together, and beating her with a cord.”
Yet South Georgia Circuit Superior Court Chief Judge A. Wallace Cato tossed out the state’s domestic violence prosecution of Santiago after he determined the couple had since reconciled.
During the course of the trial, it was revealed that Santiago “beat his wife after learning that she was having an affair,” and that Santiago and his wife had made amends. Which led Cato to ask Santiago if he and his wife “get in bed and get it on?”
When Santiago affirmed that he and his wife still do have sex, Cato declared the prosecution to be “ridiculous.”
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Cato continued his highly unusual line of questioning with Santiago, asking the man if he thought that his wife would hold the conviction “over his head” so she could “make you do what she says.”
The man who pleaded guilty to beating his wife said he did think his wife might hold it over is head if he were to be convicted of the abuse. Cato dismissed the case.
On Aug. 24, the Georgia Court of Appeals rejected the judge’s move to dismiss the case and reinstated the prosecution on the grounds that Cato had exceeded his lawful role by making a decision that was supposed to rest with the prosecutor.
A statement written for the Court of Appeals panel by Judge M. Yvette Miller argues that by dismissing the case, Cato had interfered with the state’s right to prosecute crimes, saying, “Not only do we find a lack of legal basis for dismissing the case, we consider the trial court’s questions to Santiago and his wife about her adultery, their sex life, and whether she would hold a conviction over his head highly inappropriate and irrelevant.”