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Ex-Marine Gets 15 Years in Jail for Beating Wife in Judge's Chambers

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Florida ex-marine who broke his wife's nose and jaw in a judge's chambers was sentenced to 15 years in prison Friday afternoon.

In April 2011, Paul Gonzalez, 29, became enraged when Judge Ronald Rothschild ordered him to pay child support for the couple's two young children. He viciously beat his wife, Catie Scott-Gonzalez, in front of the judge at the Broward County Courthouse.

Gonzalez was accused of beating his wife, inflicting a fractured jaw, a broken nose, bruised, black eyes, bloody lips and other injuries.

At his sentencing on Friday, his lawyers filed a motion of downward departure, which essentially meant leniency, partially because, they argued, he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after his stint in the military.

A doctor testified that Gonzalez has mental health issues. His sister, Danielle Gonzalez, acknowledged the issues were present since childhood.

"Paul was very hyper. I remember having several altercations with Paul as his older sister," she said, according to ABC News affiliate WPLG-TV.

"The two things that triggered him the most were the child support and custody," Scott-Gonzalez, 23, told after the beating. "He advised the judge that he thought child support was unconstitutional."

When Rothschild reprimanded Gonzalez, telling him he'd go to jail if he didn't pay child support, he erupted, Scott-Gonzalez said.

Scott-Gonzalez's mother, Doreen Scott, was outside of the chambers waiting for her daughter to wrap up the proceedings when she heard the tussle.

"We heard banging and screaming and then as I started to run in, all of these bailiffs came from elevators with canine dogs. I just said, 'where is my daughter?'" Scott said.

Her daughter was lying on the floor in a pool of blood. The first blow to her head had knocked her unconscious. Bailiffs had to taser Gonzalez twice to subdue him.

The Ft. Lauderdale woman spent three days in the hospital with a broken nose, fractured cheekbone and broken jaw.

She was so badly beaten that her children, Isabella, 2, and Nathaniel, 3, didn't recognize their mother.

Scott-Gonzalez's vision was so blurred that she had to withdraw from her college classes because she was unable to study for her upcoming finals, she said.

"I still have constant headaches. My equilibrium is off. I still need assistance walking," Scott-Gonzalez said on April 20, 2011.

Scott-Gonzalez's mother, who is a nurse, tended to her battered daughter on the floor of the judge's chambers.

"She's healing surface-wise, but she is not emotionally healing. She's waking up in the middle of the night crying," she said.

Scott-Gonzalez said that wasn't the first time her four-year marriage turned violent. She filed for a restraining order twice, but was denied both times. When she separated from her husband in 2010 and moved in with her mother, she started carrying a taser to protect herself.

"Going through a metal detector [at the courthouse], I assumed I was in good hands, that I was being protected, that something like this wouldn't happen," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio