Inmate Weds, But Can't Touch, Fiancée in Criminal Court

Tharvin Benitez, 21, is currently in an Illinois jail after an arrest last May on felony drug charges. But his first child with girlfriend Jessica Ortiz is due any day, and the two wanted to be married before it arrived — so they petitioned for a courthouse wedding. And what do you know! Not only did DuPage County Judge Blanche Fawell — the presiding judge on Benitez's criminal case — sign off on it, she officiated the ceremony herself.

The unusual circumstances made for some workarounds: Instead of a tux, Tharvin wore an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs. The bride wore "black slacks and an animal print top." And security rules prevented the two from exchanging rings or even kissing after vows were said. Instead, they were separated by several feet, and defense attorney Robert Duffy stepped in to place the ring on Ortiz's finger.

"In 40 years of practice, this is the first time that I've been both the defense attorney and the witness to the marriage," Duffy said afterward.

Very sweet circumstances indeed. But unfortunately, the groom is looking at a sentence of up to 30 years in prison if convicted. Sad trombone. [Chicago Tribune, police photo]