A judge ruled Tuesday that a 16-year-old guilty of driving his pickup truck drunk and killing four people in June will get 10 years of probation.
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Ethan Couch was charged as a juvenile with four counts of intoxication manslaughter.
Prosecutors said Couch’s alcohol level was three times the legal limit when he caused the chain reaction crash June 15 in Burleson, and there were seven other teens in the pickup, including two in the bed.
The crash killed a youth pastor, a mother and her daughter and a 24-year-old woman, and those who lost their loved ones think justice was far from served.
Couch may go to a pricy rehab facility in California – a decision the families of his victims are angry about. Those families hoped Couch would receive the maximum jail sentence of 20 years. Couch is being held in jail Tuesday night, waiting for the judge to decide on a $1,200-a-day treatment facility his father has agreed to pay for.
“Reliving the facts and the events was difficult, but probably nothing more difficult than today,” said Eric Boyles, who spoke publicly for the first time after losing his wife, Hollie, and daughter, Shelby, on Father’s Day weekend.
Hollie and Shelby Boyles stood alongside Burleson-Retta Road as youth pastor Brian Jennings helped Breanna Mitchell change a flat tire. That’s when Couch slammed into the victims, killing all of them.
In the months that followed, Couch went to Newport Academy in Orange County, California for drug and alcohol rehab, and that’s where his attorneys want him sent for a year, costing Couch’s father nearly $500,000. Couch wouldn’t be allowed to have any contact with his parents for at least six months.
“We applaud Judge Boyd for having the courage to issue this sentence that’s going to give Ethan Couch a chance to develop into a productive citizen and try to make amends for his actions,” said defense attorney Scott Brown.
The defense argued that Couch was the product of a dysfunctional and abusive family — parents who condoned drug and alcohol use and never set boundaries.
The families of those he killed think couch got an easier sentence because of his parents’ influence.
“Money always seems to keep Ethan out of trouble,” said Eric Boyles. “This was one time I did ask the court for justice and for money not to prevail.”
Judge Jean Boyd told the court the reason for the probated sentence is because she believes Couch can be rehabilitated as long as he’s away from his family and given the right treatment.
“If he messes up, we’ll be right there waiting for him,” said prosecutor Richard Alpert.
If Couch violates any terms of his probation, he’ll be re-sentenced for up to 10 years in prison.
Even if he’d gotten the maximum of 20 years in Wednesday’s decision, his attorney says he likely would’ve served two years or less since he’s a minor.
The judge will decide to send Couch to Newport Academy or another facility.
- This Boy is NOT in Prison: Judge Lets Rich Kid Ethan Couch Off With Probation For Killing 4 In Drunken Crash (childreninprison.wordpress.com)
- TX Teen Gets Probation For DUI Wreck Killing 4 | Blamed Rich Childhood (wibw.com)
- Judge gives probation to teen who killed four in DWI crash citing ‘affluenza’ (kmov.com)