A Texas judge is under fire for dishing out life sentences, telling defendants they’re on the hook ‘till death do them part.
Judge Randall Rogers has allegedly pressured at least three couples into marriage when they’ve appeared in his courtroom for minor infractions, according to a KLTV story on Wednesday.
The judge first gained national attention during the summer when he told Joston Bundy, 21, he could marry his 19-year-old girlfriend Elizabeth Jaynes or go to jail for 15 days on an assault charge.
“Even though I don’t mind being married for the life, it wasn’t supposed to be forced on me"
Bundy and Jaynes married, and the odd circumstances of their pairing became media fodder. It was a story that Michelle Powell knew all too well.
“It’s like a life sentence,” Powell told KLTV.
She appeared before Rogers in July 2015 with her then boyfriend for failing to check $100 worth of items through a self-checkout line at a grocery store. Rogers was about to sentence Powell to two years probation and told her, during that time, she would not be able to get within 100 feet of her boyfriend – unless she made a quick decision.
“Do you two want to run off and get married and come back?” Rogers asked. In transcripts viewed by KLTV, Rogers told the couple “this will turn out to be a life sentence.”
“Even though I don’t mind being married for the life, it wasn’t supposed to be forced on me,” Powell said. “It’s hard that you didn’t get to plan it that way you wanted to plan it.”
Nearly the same thing occurred in 2012 when Benjerman Bull, 27, and his live-in girlfriend were arrested for taking items from a department store. Rogers gave the couple a simple choice: marry or move.
“If they don’t get married within 30 days, they separate,” Rogers says in the transcript. “They go around each other, they go to jail.”
The couple wed, but the pairing didn’t turn out to be paradise.
“The marriage did not benefit [my son], it made things worse on his way of life,” said Benjerman’s father, Bill. “It made it worse on his emotions. He was under distress all the time. It created more financial and emotional problems.”
After Benjerman got sick and went on life support, his wife had the legal authority to make his healthcare decisions. That didn’t sit well with Bill.
“It upset me quite a bit knowing that he was already brain dead and was not going to survive,” said Bill, whose son ended up passing away. “That marriage certificate enabled her to keep him alive longer and for no reason. My son would not have wanted to live that way.”