ATLANTA – A judge has dropped a murder charge against a Georgia man who told police his wife died after he pushed her and her head struck a couch. The ruling angered the woman's family and disappointed police.
Cynthia "Cynde" Bates, 28, died May 6, a day after telling her husband, Jonathan Bates, that she wanted a divorce, WSB-TV reported .
According to a police report, Bates told officers he pushed his wife while his two children were in the room, and her head struck a couch. He said she later began having trouble breathing, and she died the next day at a hospital.
An autopsy showed Cynthia Bates died of blunt-force trauma to the back of her head, WSB reported, citing police in the town of Dallas, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of Atlanta.
Jonathan Bates was charged with murder, battery and two counts of cruelty to children. It wasn't clear who his attorney was. Police say the children witnessed the confrontation that led to their mother's death.
Paulding County Chief Judge Tony Beavers on Tuesday said that he found probable cause only for the battery charge, a decision that upset Cynthia Bates' family.
"How are you going to say there's not enough evidence (when) the autopsy revealed blunt trauma to the back of the head?" her sister, Sandy Dement, told WSB. "It's not right and he doesn't deserve to get away with this."
Dallas police Capt. Bill Gorman, one of the investigators on the case, said the decision was a setback, but not the end of the judicial process.
"We still have other options that are available to us," Gorman said.
Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan said he intends to take the case to a grand jury.