Wealth used as defense for teen accused of killing 4 in drunk driving crash
FT. WORTH, Texas (CNN) – The decision by a judge to sentence a teen who killed four people while driving drunk to probation is sparking outrage across the country.
Authorities say 16-year-old Ethan Couch admitted to drinking alcohol the night his speeding truck caused a chain-reaction crash that killed four people and severely injured two others.
Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter in the accident, said, “We had over 180 years of life taken, future life, not 180 years lived but 180 years of future life taken and two of those were my wife and daughter.”
Hollie and Shelby Boyles were helping 24-year-old Breanna Mitchell, whose car was stranded on the side of the road.
Brian Jennings, a youth pastor, also stopped to help the stranded motorist.
That’s when Couch’s vehicle slammed into them.
All four were killed.
Three hours after the crash, Couch’s blood alcohol level was .24, three times the legal limit in Texas.
He was arrested and charged with four counts of intoxication manslaughter.
During the trial, his defense attorney said his client is the product of “affluenza,” caused by his parents.
His defense attorney said Couch doesn’t link bad behavior with consequences because his parents taught him that wealth buys privilege.
The judge ruled that Couch would not be released to his parents and must undergo long-term treatment at an alcohol rehab center.
The teen’s defense attorney says the sentence will teach Couch that there are consequences for his actions.
Scott Brown, Couch’s defense attorney, said, “Taking him away from his family and teaching him to be a responsible citizen, that’s a consequence.”
Others, including the victims’ families, disagree with the decision.
Boyles said, “Money always seems to keep Ethan out of trouble. This was one time I did ask the court that for justice and that for money not to prevail and, ultimately, today I felt like money did prevail.”
Couch will be on probation for 10 years.
If he violates any of the conditions of his probation over that time span, he could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.