Nov. 1, 2005 — -- Yvette Cade thought she was doing the right thing by obtaining an order of protection against her allegedly abusive husband.
But Prince George's District Court Judge Richard A. Palumbo dismissed the order during a Sept. 19 hearing, and now Cade is in critical condition, severely burned over half her body after her 33-year-old husband, Roger Hargrave, allegedly went to her office, doused her with gasoline and set her on fire.
Her family says Palumbo could have prevented the Oct. 10 attack.
"His part was allowing this to take place because he could have prevented it and he did not," said Michael Haynesworth, Cade's cousin.
According to court audio tapes, Cade, 31, pleaded with Palumbo to extend the order of protection against her husband. Under such orders, a subject is forbidden to contact the person who sought the order. Violations can result in contempt charges, arrest, fines or jail time.
"He's violating the peace order, he's contacting my family," Cade says on the tapes. "I want an immediate absolute divorce."
Palumbo responds: "I'd like to be 6'5", but that's not what we do here. You have to go to divorce court for that."
When Cade tells the judge her husband is trying to force her into marriage counseling, Palumbo responds, "Maybe not a bad idea if you want to save the marriage."
"I don't want to because … ," Cade says on the tape before she is interrupted.
"Well then you're in the wrong place," Palumbo says. "Get a lawyer and go to divorce court."
Palumbo would not comment on the case to ABC News, but through a lawyer he said he did not intend to dismiss the order of protection, claiming it was a clerical error. He did not apologize, but Palumbo said he has the utmost sympathy for Cade.
Chief Administrative Judge Thurman H. Rhodes has said he disagrees with Palumbo's claim of a mistake. He told The Washington Post he believes Palumbo clearly dismissed the protective order during the September hearing.
Cade's family said she may need more than 40 surgeries in the upcoming months. Her husband is charged with attempted murder and is being held without bond.