Ethan Couch, a 16-year-old from Texas who killed four pedestrians while driving drunk, avoided serving time in prison thanks to his attorney’s argument that he was too rich to understand the consequences of his actions.
According to court records, Ethan Couch’s blood alcohol level was .24 at the time of the crash, three times the legal limit for an adult. Prosecutors presented evidence showing Couch and his friends stole beer from Walmart, drank it all, then jumped back into his truck to find more. On the way, he hit four pedestrians, killing them. Two passengers were thrown from the truck and severely injured.
Youth pastor Brian Jennings, Breanna Mitchell, and Hollie and Shelby Boyles were killed in the crash. Initially, Breanna Mitchell lost control of her vehicle and ended up in a ditch. Hollie Boyles, 42, and her daughter, Shelby Boyles, 21, stopped to assist Mitchell. Brian Jennings, 43, also stopped to help. Ethan Couch’s red truck slammed into the four victims. Inside of his truck were Soliman Mohmand, 15; Avery Rich, 19; Garrett Ballard, 16; Starr Teague, 15; Sergio Molina, 15; Jacob Goodsell, 15; and Christian Victoria, 15.
Although prosecutors asked that the teen serve 20 years in prison, Ethan Couch was sentenced to 10 years probation by Texas State District Judge Jean Boyd. Defense attorneys argued that Ethan’s parents were responsible for the teen’s actions that night because of the way he was raised. Psychologist G. Dick Miller, a defense witness, testified that Couch suffered from “affluenza,” a condition in which “his family felt that wealth brought privilege and there was no rational link between behavior and consequences.” Miller explained that he was raised to get anything he wanted and his parents never punished Couch for his behavior, even when the local police twice found him passed out drunk with a naked 14-year-old girl. Miller further stated that Couch was allowed to drink from a very young age and started driving when he was 13 years old. As part of the defense strategy, Couch’s attorneys explained that he needed treatment, not jail.
As part of his sentence, Couch will be sent to a private counseling center that costs $450,000, which will be paid for by his father. He was not allowed to go home with his parents after sentencing, and will be housed at a detention center until he can be admitted to the treatment facility.
If you are in need of representation after being injured or losing a loved one as the result of a drunk driving accident, make sure you contact us at once!