SMITH COUNTY, Texas – When someone gets married, it is usually one of the biggest decisions in their life.
However, an East Texas couple says their choice to marry was not their own.
Josten Bundy was arrested for assault following a fight with his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend.
“[The ex-boyfriend] had been saying disrespectful things about Elizabeth, so I challenged him to a fight. He stepped in and I felt like it was on and I hit him in the jaw twice,” Bundy told KLTV. ” I took matters into my own hands and I know that’s wrong. I know I was raised better, but it happened.”
At his sentencing hearing in July, Bundy was questioned by Judge Randall Rogers.
According to court transcripts, the judge asked Bundy if she was worth it.
“I said, ‘Well, to be honest, sir, I was raised with four sisters and if any man was talking to a woman like that, I’d probably do the same thing,” he recalled.
A judge sentenced Bundy to get married to his 19-year-old girlfriend as part of his probation.
The probation also consisted of writing Bible verses and attending counseling.
If Bundy did not get married in 30 days, he would spend 15 days in jail.
“He offered me 15 days in jail and that would have been fine. And I asked if I could call my job [to let them know.] The judge told me, ‘Nope, that’s not how this works,” Bundy said.
Afraid of losing his job, the couple was married by a justice of the peace.
They say their wedding day was not what they had hoped for, saying even the most important people to them were missing.
“My father didn’t get to go, and that really bothers me. I know he would have liked to be there. None of my sisters got to show up, it was such short notice. I couldn’t get it together,” he said.
“[I felt] anger; I was mad. [The judge] can’t do this by court ordering somebody to be married,” said Kenneth Jaynes, the father of the bride. “I contacted a couple of lawyers but they told me someone was trying to pull my leg… that judges don’t court order somebody to get married.”
Attorneys told KLTV that an order to marry is not legal and would likely have been struck down on appeal.
Bundy and Jaynes say they plan to have a larger wedding once they save up enough money.