A Bakersfield attorney’s rocky marriage, marked by a divorce suit and a history of loud, public arguments, reportedly erupted into violence early Wednesday morning when police say he turned a gun on his wife and fired.
Defense attorney Mark J. Madrigali, 58, was arrested on suspicion of attempted homicide and spousal abuse after the incident.
His wife, 51, was rushed into surgery at Kern Medical Center in critical condition. Her status was unclear later in the evening.
Bakersfield police said Madrigali called 911 at about 3:45 a.m. Wednesday and told dispatchers, “My wife has been shot.”
Responding officers found Madrigali in the front yard and detained him, authorities said. Inside they found a woman suffering from at least one gunshot wound.
The woman, whose name was not released, had been shot in the upper torso; it wasn’t clear if she suffered a single shot or more than one, Sgt. Will McNeal said.
Kern Medical Center refused to release the woman’s medical condition Wednesday afternoon. The Californian has a policy not to name the alleged victims of spousal abuse.
Madrigali was taken to Bakersfield Police Department headquarters for questioning and later arrested and booked into Kern County Jail.
He declined a request to be interviewed by The Californian.
Madrigali’s bail was set at $550,000 and he was scheduled to be arraigned at 3 p.m. Friday in Kern County Superior Court.
A search warrant was served at the Madrigali house, and officers recovered a number of firearms including the one believed to have been used in the shooting, McNeal said.
McNeal said only two people were at the home in the 1200 block of Telegraph Avenue just west of Bakersfield College when officers arrived, and preliminary investigations indicated that there was not a third party involved in the situation.
Neighbors said the couple fought often and the loud arguments had, at times, poured out onto the front yard.
“The police were over there several times,” said Lionel Cerda, who lives across the street from the tidy cream-colored, single-story home where the shooting took place.
He said he was awake doing laundry in the morning when he heard a single loud pop, and then a second.
Cerda thought that someone was setting off M-80 fireworks.
He said he checked around his backyard and, by the time he got to the front yard, he saw emergency vehicles arriving.
He also saw Madrigali kneeling in handcuffs on the front lawn before police took him away.
Madrigali was admitted to the California State Bar in January 2003 and runs a private practice defending clients from traffic ticket and driving under the influence charges.
In February 2010, according to the California State Bar website, the bar disciplined Madrigali after his 2009 conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol in December 2008.
According to the records, an official listed as a U.S. Park Service police officer saw Madrigali spin out while driving on Highway 101 in Marin County, stopped him and detected the odor of alcohol on him. Madrigali was arrested and blood tests recorded his blood alcohol level at .16 percent — twice the legal limit for driving.
A 2008 story by the Marin Independent Journal quoted Officer Kevin Kershaw of the California Highway Patrol as saying officers found an open bottle of vodka in the trunk of Madrigali’s silver Lexus as well as a small amount of suspected marijuana in the vehicle.
“He basically entered the freeway, lost control, spun out and accelerated away,” said Kershaw in a statement reported by the Independent Journal. “He almost got in a crash, essentially.”
Madrigali was required to attend six Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a month and submit regular reports to the California Bar.
He maintained his license to practice law.
Court records show Madrigali married his current wife in February 2009, just months after the drunk driving arrest. She sued for divorce in November 2012 after the couple separated in October of that year.
The woman cited irreconcilable differences and requested $2,500 a month in spousal support — she reported he makes around $40,000 a month — after Madrigali allegedly fired her from her job as his office manager.
She stated she was unemployed and unable to provide for her adult special-needs son without assistance from her estranged husband.
But in January, during a hearing before a Kern County Superior Court judge, the woman’s attorney asked the court to drop an order to show cause in the case and the divorce lapsed.