DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. – Eight hours before he shot and killed his son and then himself early on Sept. 20, Anthony Tesoriero was dressed down by a Douglas County District Court judge for his “alienation” of his son, told he had zero credibility and that the judge’s decision would “include substantial time with Mom.”
That time would never come, however. Tesoriero killed his son, Ty, and then himself sometime between midnight and 2:30 a.m. in the early-morning hours of Sept. 21 – sending an email just beforehand to his ex-wife, Jing Tesoriero, and posting the same note to a website that said: “By the time you finish reading this, Ty will be moments away from joining me in the afterlife.” She drove to Anthony’s apartment after calling 911, not knowing that her son and ex-husband would not emerge from inside alive.
Just hours earlier, at a custody hearing that lasted all of that Friday, Anthony’s attorney told the court how he had reformed himself in the months prior to the hearing and was capable of responsibly co-parenting Ty along with his ex-wife. The attorney also said that Anthony was not responsible for other harassing messages posted to the same site to which he would post the final message.
But after an eight-hour custody hearing in which both Anthony and Jing, and their attorneys, were able to present their cases, Douglas County District Court Judge Patricia D. Herron told Anthony she didn’t believe he had changed, that she was appalled at his manipulation of his son and that she would be granting Jing “substantial” time with her son in the order, which was expected the next day. Jing has said that was the first time that a judge took the allegations against her ex-husband seriously.
Mother’s attorney argues father “incapable of fostering a loving relationship”
Jing Tesoriero’s attorney, Caroline Cooley, told the court that day, in a hearing that started at 9 a.m., that Anthony had “systematically, methodically, deliberately, and intentionally thwarted Mother’s parenting time and alienated Ty … against his mother to the point that the child now runs away from her when she tries to talk to him,” according to a transcript of the hearing obtained by Denver7 – pleading with Herron to “help” Ty.
The court heard how Ty was going to have to repeat the fourth grade as he struggled with ADHD and as Anthony kept his son from taking medication recommended by multiple doctors, according to Cooley’s testimony, and as Anthony kept his son in his custody for 242 straight days during the last school year.
Cooley argued that Anthony was “incapable of fostering a loving relationship” and that he had shown multiple times he did not respect the mandatory protection order for domestic violence issued against him and was violating his probation without regard.
She also told the judge that he had been manipulating his son into believing that his mother, Jing, and her husband were bad people whom he should not trust – a “piece of s---,” as Anthony was heard calling his ex-wife in audio recordings shared with the court.
She asked Herron to grant Jing Tesoriero sole decision making for Ty for the next 242 days and for Anthony’s only contact with the boy to be through family counseling with both parents. She said that would allow Ty to receive “uninterrupted medical attention” without being disrupted by Anthony.
In a July 2016 letter, Ty’s pediatrician wrote to Jing Tesoriero telling her that he was discharging Ty from his care by the end of the month because of verbal abuse from Anthony.
“We do not want anyone else to be harassed,” Cooley told the court that Friday. “Ty does not need that.”
She added that Anthony was “incapable of taking ownership for his role and the deteriorated relationship between Jing and their son” and told Judge Herron that she had concerns Anthony would kidnap Ty depending on the order that was issued.
“I am concerned that … if there is an order that Father does not like, we are concerned that he will abscond with the child. He has done everything he can to keep this child from Mom for 242 days,” Cooley said, according to the transcript. “And if I had my way, you would order immediately law enforcement go secure custody of the child, give him to Jing pending further court order.”
Father’s attorney says he has reformed himself
Anthony’s attorney, Jennifer Garcia, told the court that the concerns about Anthony doing something with Ty were unfounded.
“My client does not plan on running with this minor child; my client is here with his wife. He is not going to be leaving,” she said. “My client doesn’t have a passport for this minor child. My client has no issue with staying here and doing exactly what this Court orders.”
She argued, as she had earlier in the hearing, that most of the testimony that day had already been known when the previous parenting time order was issued.
She told Herron that Anthony was completing his parental orders, had reformed himself from past missteps, and claimed it was Jing who was actually missing parenting time days – not Anthony and his new wife, who acted as a proxy in communicating with Jing since she and Anthony could not speak to each other because of the protection order.
“He understands his actions were not always in Ty’s best interest, but he’s tried to grow; his wife has tried to grow moving forward and has stopped attending these – any exchanges,” Garcia said.
She also denied Cooley’s claims that Anthony was violating his probation: “If probation felt that he was the one violating or posting or sending these things that they’ve talked of, he would have been violated.”
And she claimed that he hadn’t sent threatening emails or posted derogatory – and often false – statements on a website called CheaterReport. Garcia said Anthony’s prior animosity toward letting his ex-wife care for their son had subsided.
“He knows now that allowing only supervised parenting time with Mom is not in the child’s best interest; he knows that sole decision making is not in the child’s best interest,” she told the court. “He stated specifically that he believes putting the past behind them and moving forward and working as a collective family on both sides is what is in this child’s best interest.”
“Again, no child should be away from either parent for 242 days, let alone Mom,” Garcia would add minutes later, according to the transcript. “That shouldn’t have happened.”
She said Anthony would be requesting attorney’s fees but “that’s the only thing he would really be asking for.”
“But most importantly for Mom to get this time but in a therapeutic way that is best for this minor child, Your Honor,” Garcia said.
The judge’s decision
It was then Herron’s turn to make her decision. She said that she had asked the Department of Human Services to attend the hearing in case she ruled to have the child removed and said she wanted to review all the records of the case before ruling – adding that if she decided on removing Ty from Anthony’s custody, it would happen “first thing in the morning” with a judge that was on-call that Saturday with whom Herron said she had already spoken.
She commended the attorneys for both parties, saying they had “fought hard for each side.” She removed all restrictions as to Jing’s husband being allowed to see Ty, saying all the allegations Anthony made against him “were found to be unfounded.”
“Frankly, I think he’s a saint that he has not run far away,” she said of the husband, whom Cooley and Jing said had been harassed online repeatedly by Anthony and had been used as a wedge by Anthony to manipulate Ty into not wanting to see his mother.
But that was just the first issue that Herron raised to tear into Anthony and his actions.
“It is unthinkable when you pull up his names that there are pages and pages of unimaginable crap that comes up relative to him,” Herron said. “I don’t know who is responsible for that, but I do know that Dad is responsible for not letting it go, for making it an issue with his son, for repeatedly pursuing that with his son and making it so bad that this young boy has become so fearful he can’t get over it.”
She compared the grooming of Ty by Anthony to an abusive relationship, when even flinching at a person who had been abused would make them recoil in fear.
“It is unthinkable; it’s unimaginable that you … would engage in that kind of conduct. I am angry beyond words; I have rarely seen this kind of alienation in any case, and it is really shocking, and it’s been pervasive,” Herron said.
“The damage that has been caused to this young boy is unthinkable, and I don’t know what it will take to repair it,” she added. “But I’m going to fashion something that I hope will repair it, and it’s probably going to be some substantial time with his mother.”
She commended Jing Tesoriero for weathering “the situation she’s been in and to back completely away in the best interest of her child” – saying it was “about the most selfless thing a person can do” and adding that she did not see Jing’s actions as “abandonment.”
“The Court sees it as a recognition by this mother that – that the alienation has been so deep and so devastating that any attempt on her part is going to be fruitless,” Herron added. “And rather than cause Ty more pain, more suffering, she was willing to back away.”
Herron said, again, she would take more time to review parts of the case but said “hat’s off” to Jing and that she would “make some orders that are appropriate.”
Herron then tore down Anthony’s claims that he had changed in the months before the hearing.
“Well, at this point, the Court finds Dad’s credibility to be zero,” Herron said. “I think his epiphanies that we heard of today are interesting that they come today.”
She said that Anthony was unsuccessfully discharged from mental health services on domestic violence in November 2018 “because it appeared he did not want to make a change,” as she said his probation officer had reported. She said the officer also reported that Anthony hadn’t completed his community service as of the discharge, hadn’t taken down the social media posts (Garcia later clarified that they had tried but the company would not comply), and had not made some of his additional probation appointments.
“That is just months ago. Short months ago. And yet, somehow in that short period of time, just before we get to court here, he’s had an epiphany that now he need – he’s all right. He needs the change, and he wants all of these things that should have occurred months ago to occur now,” Herron said.
“The Court finds that disingenuous and the timing to be very interesting.”
Herron said she was “appalled” that Anthony’s probation had not been revoked and speculated that “maybe they will when [they] get the order that I enter, or maybe they won’t.”
She then started to explain that no matter what happened in the past, Friday was a new day.
“I can’t imagine hurting a child in this manner and letting it go on and on and on. I can tell you that I understand how the Court’s previous orders may have reached different conclusions,” she said. “Everyone hears things differently, sees things different, and I get that. Maybe they didn’t hear the same things I did; I don’t know. But those are my observations.”
And if her hints toward the parents and their attorneys were not strong enough that this hearing was different from past ones, Herron pressed further.
“I am determined to get this case on the right track from my perspective, regardless of what’s been done in the past,” she said. “Whatever was done in the past didn’t work, and I think we can all agree that that’s true. So I’ll make my effort at it.”
After some discussion between the attorneys and the judge, Herron said one final thing to Jing, Anthony and their attorneys – despite already telling the court that she would not remove Ty from his father that day.
“We are where we are, and it’s – it’s heart wrenching to this Court that this young man, this young boy, is in the situation that he’s in, that he feels compelled, based on what’s happened, to run from his mother based on unfounded allegations that have been repeated again and again and again in an effort to keep him fearful so that he will continue to be afraid to go,” Herron said. “It’s – it’s not okay. So with that, we’re in recess today.”
It was 5:20 p.m. – more than eight hours after the hearing got underway. Less than nine hours later, both Anthony and Ty were dead, and Jing was waiting outside of her ex-husband’s apartment for an emergency ambulance that would never come.