Texas Teen Sentenced to Probation for Killing Four While Driving Drunk

Ethan Couch, a 16-year-old who killed four people and injured nine others in a drunk driving crash last June, won’t serve any jail time, after a decision handed down by a Texas judge yesterday. In a case that is stirring national outrage, State District Judge Jean Boyd sentenced Couch to 10 years probation.

Couch’s blood alcohol level was 0.24 when he struck and killed youth pastor Brian Jennings, mother and daughter Hollie and Shelby Boyles, and 24-year-old Breanna Mitchell. Jennings and the Boyleses had stopped to help Mitchell, who had a flat tire, on a road in Tarrant County, near Fort Worth. A total of 16 people were involved in the multi-car pile-up Couch caused when he crashed into the group. One of Couch’s passengers is still hospitalized with severe brain damage.

Prosecutors had sought a 20 year prison term. But defense attorneys successfully argued that Couch, who comes from a wealthy family, was a victim of “affluenza,” and that as a result of his privilege did not recognize there were consequences to his behavior. Gawker reports that Couch will spend time in a $500,000-a-year treatment center.

Local station WFAA reports that disappointed friends and family of the victims left the courthouse through the back door following the decision.

“There are just some things that even today … are just too difficult to talk about,” said Eric Boyles, whose wife and daughter were killed. “At this point, we are trying to take life one day at a time. I do look forward to the day that we can put some of this behind us. Today could have been a good start at that … and unfortunately the wounds that it opened only makes the healing process that much greater.”

  • “Affluenza?”. So now the judiciary is overtly admitting a class based double standard. Pardon me while I vomit.

  • science goy

    Well, at least they’re officially acknowledging something that’s been true for basically this country’s entire history. Now that it’s out in the open, maybe enough people will get angry enough to do something about it.

  • Anandakos

    Wow! Kill four people, maim a fifth perhaps permanently, with a triple BAC and walk away?

    “Money doesn’t talk, it screams!” — Bob Dylan

  • DustyW

    What?? Outrageous! Unbelievable. Oh … wait … this happened in Texas. Now I understand.

  • Jack Jackson

    Teddy Kennedy got to serve in the US Senate for 40 years after drowning a woman. This kid has a bright future ahead of him

  • Jack Jackson

    Teddy Kennedy got to serve 40 years in the Senate after drowning a woman and suffering from this debilitating conditions

  • Spokker

    BS. Everywhere in the United States we talk tough on drunk driving but then turn around and treat driving as a right and not an inherently dangerous activity even if you are sober. After the fourth DUI conviction, a state might revoke the drivers license permanently (this varies obviously). Ever heard of the multiple DUI offender who whines through his lawyer that he needs to drive for work? Tough shit. We could end drunk driving tomorrow if we wanted to, but hey, bars have parking lots.

  • Spokker

    1/3rd of DUI arrests are repeat offenders. What, they are all coming from money? Please, the class warfare only masks the real problem of treating drivers with kid gloves.

  • lindsaybanks

    I’ve heard (but can’t say for sure) that here in Illinois, the local municipalities often let’s the offender plea out and pay a fine and they are using it as a way to stay afloat in tough economic times.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Streetsie Awards: The Worst of 2013

|
We’ve talked about some of the highlights of 2013, but truth be told, there were plenty of lowlights too. For example… Outrage of the Year: Our readers were pretty universally outraged by a Texas judge’s inexcusably light sentence of 10 years’ probation for a teenager who killed four people with his car while his blood […]

Georgia Prosecutor Continues Case Against Raquel Nelson

|
The impaired hit-and-run driver who struck and killed her son on a metro Atlanta road in 2010 has been released from prison by now, but Raquel Nelson is still being prosecuted for her purported role in the tragedy. The single mother of three was injured trying to prevent the collision that killed four-year-old A.J. Newman. […]