Family Law Nightmares: Part 1

In this new series of posts, I will review family law cases that ended in tragedy and often bodily harm or death for one of the spouses and others related to the divorce litigation. For the most part, the motives behind the horrific unravelling of domestic disputes is two of the best-known seven sins: greed and pride.

Darren Mack was born and raised in Nevada. He was a handsome, athletic boy who attended the University of Nevada on a baseball scholarship. He had two failed marriages and two children at the time he married his third wife, Charla Mack. Charla bore him a child, who was seven years old at the time their ten year marriage faltered in 2005.

It was reported that Darren Mack earned half a million a year from the family business, a jewelery store and pawn shop in Reno. His net worth was $9 million.

The Macks’ divorce case went to trial where Family Court Judge Chuck Weller awarded Mrs. Mack child support of $849.00 per month, temporary alimony of $10,000.00 per month for five years, an additional $10,000.00 per month for family expenses, and $480,000.00, so she could purchase a home. Mack never paid the sums owed, was found to be in contempt of court and flagrantly filed for bankruptcy.

At the last hearing before Judge Weller on May 26, 2006, Darren Mack was granted 50/50 custody of his daughter.

But Mack was angry at the amount of alimony he was ordered to pay and on June 12, 2006 he slashed Charla Mack’s throat and left her to die in her home.

Two hours later, Mack found a location that allowed him to shoot a sniper’s rifle through the third floor window of Judge Chuck Weller’s chambers, injuring but not killing him. Darren Mack hopped on the first flight to Mexico and was at large for eleven days before he turned himself in.

His murder and attempted murder trial began in November of 2007 with a change of venue from Reno to Las Vegas. With the prosecutor’s case completed and Mr. Mack’s attorney poised to begin his opening statement, his attorney suddenly advised the Court that Mack wished to plead guilty to the murder charge and no contest to the attempted murder charge. Mack was queried by the Court to ensure that he understood the ramifications of his plea. His attorney had negotiated a 20 year sentence for Mack, albeit the plea deal was not binding on the Court.

Unhappily for Mr. Mack, the judge sentenced him to a minimum of 36 years in prison, but only if all his parole applications succeeded. He immediately blamed his lawyers for coercing him to take the guilty plea and returned to Court with new lawyers seeking to obtain a new trial. Mack took the witness stand at this hearing and acknowledged that had he run into his wife’s lawyer on June 12, 2006, that he may well have shot him too.

Mack’s position at the hearing for a new trial was that he killed his wife in self-defence when she waved a gun at him. The trouble was that no gun was ever located and no one believed Mr. Mack. He claimed to be insane when he fired through Judge Weller’s courthouse window. His quest for a new trial was refused, but his litigation was far from over.

Besides the usual appeals, Mack faced a plethora of civil suits including one filed by Judge Chuck Weller and another by Ms. Allison, a secretary who was in Judge Weller’s chambers and was hit by shrapnel and broken glass.

Charla Mack’s executor brought an action against Darren Mack to enforce an oral settlement agreement that had been reached prior to Charla’s murder. The civil court granted the claim and ordered that the sum of $1 million be paid to her estate for her daughter’s benefit. Ms. Mack’s estate also brought a wrongful death action on behalf of Charla and her daughter and received a judgement of $590 million.

Darren Mack now sits in a penitentiary, having never expressed one ounce of remorse. He still maintains that it was the family justice system that drove him to take the actions he took.

The ultimate irony is that in 1998 Charla Mack rented a billboard in Reno that lovingly announced that Darren Mack was Father of the Year, a title also endorsed by his children. The only title Mack deserves now is Narcissistic Sociopath of the Year.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang


4 thoughts on “Family Law Nightmares: Part 1

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