A defendant that was sentenced to two years of probation for possession of fentanyl was given a new ultimatum by Ohio judge Christopher Wagner, either take the COVID-19 vaccine or face a possible 18 months in state prison for violating probation.
According to WCPO, defendant Brandon Rutherford was ordered to get vaccinated within 60 days or face the penalty of being in violation of his probation. Rutherford said he refuses to take it. “I’m not taking the vaccine,” he told CNN.
“This defendant was in possession of fentanyl, which is deadlier than the vaccine and COVID-19,” Wagner said in a statement. “The defendant expressed no objection during the proceedings and stated no medical concerns, and his attorney did not object.”
In transcripts obtained by WCPO, Judge Wagner explained how he believed the vaccine to be safer than fentanyl, a deadly chemical that has lead to many deaths because of how it’s laced in other drugs.
“I’m just a judge, not a doctor, but I think the vaccine’s a lot safer than fentanyl, which is what you had in your pocket,” Wagner said. “You’re going to maintain employment. You’re not going to be around a firearm. I’m going to order you, within the next two months, to get a vaccine and show that to the probation office. Okay?”
In another statement, Judge Wagner explained that it’s common practice for a court to issue community control sanctions in efforts to aid the defendant as well.
“The court’s responsibility when issuing a community control sanction is to rehabilitate the defendant and protect the community,” he wrtote. “Judges make decisions regularly regarding a defendant’s physical and mental health, such as ordering drug, alcohol, and mental health treatment.”
Brandon Rutherford has 60 days after his Aug. 4 court appearance to get the vaccine.