Judge Marries Couple Before Sentencing Husband to Prison

Moments after his wedding, Brian Lee Benefiel was sentenced to prison.

Benefiel, 26, wore a gray Spokane County jail jumpsuit and his bride, Cassandra Benefiel, wore black as they said their vows Monday morning before Superior Court Judge Ellen Kalama Clark, who closed the courtroom for the ceremony.

Benefiel then pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and residential burglary. Accepting a recommendation from prosecutors in a plea agreement that spared Benefiel a life prison term under Washington state's three-strikes law, Clark sentenced him to 18 years in prison. He initially was charged with attempted first-degree murder.

"This avoided the risk of trial," defense lawyer Anna K. Nordvedt said.

Investigators wrote in court filings that Benefiel broke into an apartment and bashed one of the occupants, Michael S. Wilson, over the head with a claw hammer on Aug. 9.

The judge ordered that he submit to drug abuse treatment and issued a 10-year no-contact order with Wilson and Lisa Robertson, who also lived in the unit.

"I don't want to hurt nobody no more," Benefiel said between tears in court.

Clark congratulated him for the hope indicated by his marriage.

"You have something else to look forward to," she said.