“Affluenza” Teen Gets No Jail Time After Killing 4 While Driving Drunk
Victims’ families and the public are outraged after a Texas teen received ten years probation for killing four people and injuring others while driving drunk. The defense successfully argued that Ethan Couch, 16, was himself a victim of his parents’ wealth and permissiveness, which one expert witness called “affluenza.”
Eric Boyles, whose wife and daughter were killed in the June 15 accident, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that justice was not done.
“My healing process is out the window,” he said.
Couch was sentenced to ten years of probation, including time in an intensive rehabilitation clinic. Couch’s defense argued that he had not been given limitations by his parents, and had always been given what he wanted. They said he needed treatment, and not that which is available in the juvenile corrections system. Instead, the teen will spend time at a luxury facility in Newport Beach, CA.
Couch will not be allowed to contact his parents, but they will pay for the treatment, which costs $450,000 a year.
The teen was reportedly speeding along a country road with seven passengers in his pick up truck when he struck Brian Jennings, a 43-year-old youth minister, Breanna Mitchell, 24, Shelby Boyles, 21, and her 52-year-old mother, Hollie Boyles. Mitchell’s car had broken down. The Boyles lived nearby and came out to help, and Mitchell was passing when he also stopped to help.
Several passengers were also thrown from Couch’s truck, and were severely wounded.
Blood tests conducted hours after the crash showed that Couch still had a blood alcohol level three times over the legal limit. Security footage from earlier in the evening showed him and his friends stealing two cases of beer from a Walmart.
Prosecutor Richard Alpert predicted that the sentence will only cause more problems, and even another tragedy.
“There can be no doubt that he will be in another courthouse one day blaming the lenient treatment he received here,” he said.
[image by CNN]