Love Hurts

Locked in a labyrinth of codependency, Lolly and Roger spend their days warily together

A few months later, in January 1994, Roger was arrested and charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon. He spent almost three months at the Harris County Jail.

Lolly says Roger's court-appointed attorney asked if she thought there might be something wrong with Roger. She said yes. That's when Roger was first diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, she says.

Doctors explained to Lolly and her husband that Roger was sick, therefore his bizarre behavior wasn't necessarily his fault. Roger took his medicine every day in front of his stepfather. When his stepfather died five years ago, Roger stopped taking the psychotropic drugs, Lolly says. "The authority was gone."

Off the medication, Lolly says, Roger installed extra locks and wires inside his bedroom door. Lolly says she can tell when he's sick, because he gets a strange look in his eyes. And he had that look the day he pushed her to the ground, she says.

Roger's version of his mother's fall on August 7, 2001, starts the same as Lolly's. They both agree that he wanted to borrow her vehicle to go to the auto store and buy a part for his truck. "I told her I'd be right back," he says. She followed him down the sidewalk and started hitting him, Roger says. He acknowledges that he pushed her, and he admits she fell -- but he insists that she falls all the time. "She fell down in the kitchen when she was mopping," he says. "She's fell putting oil in the car. She's fell putting jackets on the kids." She didn't get hurt when she fell, he says.

Roger went to the store, came home, and his mother was gone. She had temporarily moved in with Roger's younger brother. Neighbors reported to Lolly that Roger moved her furniture into the garage and piled her things in the garbage ditch in front of the house. Then he killed her grandchildren's pet rabbit and hung it in a blue plastic shopping bag outside the front door.

On August 30, 2001, Roger was indicted for felony aggravated assault with serious bodily injury. In an affidavit, Lolly stated that Roger's actions scared her. A two-year protective order was issued by the 311th District Court preventing Roger from being within 200 feet of Lolly's home.

At the end of September, Roger's court-appointed attorney filed a motion asking that Roger receive a psychiatric exam. "He doesn't appear rational, he talks about CIA men and counter intelligence," attorney Hector Chavana wrote. "He needs medication."

Whenever Chavana consulted Roger about the case, Roger was angry, agitated, grunting and hollering, Chavana says. "It was a little scary," he says. "I was very grateful that there was a partition there between us." They never had a calm, rational discussion about why Roger was incarcerated, Chavana says.

MHMRA psychologist Ramon Laval noted in a competency evaluation that Roger said he needed to hire a detective. "Tangentially, he began to talk about how he had lost his driver's license and thus, someone may have committed crimes for which he will be wrongly accused," Laval wrote. Laval reported that Roger's thinking was disorganized, illogical and loose.

A jury found Roger incompetent to stand trial. He was committed to the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation's North Texas State Hospital in Vernon in February 2002. Three months later, psychiatrist Wassel A. Lewis wrote that despite both group and individual therapy sessions, Roger remained psychotic and needed more treatment. Roger told the doctor that he felt he was competent to stand trial. "He gave a description about his charge, but basically it was difficult to follow and even after several attempts to clarify what he was saying, I have no idea what he was talking about," Lewis wrote.

Roger also made what the doctor described as "delusional statements," saying he was sworn in as a plainclothesman in the army, according to the report. Roger was able to name the past three presidents, locate the state capital and the Golden Gate Bridge. But he had no idea who was governor or the Eiffel Tower's location. He told the psychiatrist that he didn't need medication because he didn't think there was anything wrong with him, the report says.

In June 2002, Laval re-evaluated Roger, who insisted that his mother just lost her step, fell down and hurt herself, the report says. Roger was alert, coherent, and his speech and thinking process were logical. The evaluator wrote that Roger wasn't suffering from a mental disease or defect severe enough to prohibit him from standing trial.

The week before Thanksgiving 2002 Roger was deemed "marginally competent" to stand trial. Laval reported that Roger didn't appear to be "actively psychotic," just mistaken. Roger insisted that he had served his time and should be released.

At that time, Roger understood the roles of the judge, jury and attorneys. He also knew what he was charged with, his lawyer says. "It wasn't like, 'Yeah, I pushed her down and I hurt her because a big purple bunny told me to do it,' " Chavana says. "That was not the case."

A jury trial was scheduled for December 9, 2002. But the week before, the district attorney's office dismissed the felony charge. The case was refiled with the charge of misdemeanor aggravated assault. For assault with bodily injury to be classified as a felony, there has to be permanent damage or disfigurement. In the case file, the only injury Lolly listed was a broken wrist. "Although injuries can sometimes seem very serious, they are not necessarily going to be serious bodily injury," says Danny Dexter, Harris County assistant district attorney, second chair in the 228th District Court. "We can't maintain the charges if we can't prove the elements of the crime."

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