After getting behind the wheel while drunk, injuring two people, and killing four more in a collision, Texas teen Ethan Couch gets ten years probation because of his â€œaffluenzaâ€ defense. Lawyers argued that because heâ€™s always gotten what he wanted, his parents should have some fault in the matter.
This all started when Breanna Mitchell’s SUV broke down on the side of the road. Shelby and Hollie Boyles left their home to help their friend. Brian Jennings, a youth pastor who was driving by, also decided to help.
All four of them were killed when Couch’s pickup ran them over and struck a parked car. The parked car was hit with such force that it actually hit another vehicle driving in the opposite direction. But, that’s not all – ”two people who were in the back of Couch’s pickup truck were thrown from the bed upon impact and are now seriously injured. One of the passengers can no longer walk or talk due to severe brain injury, and the other suffered from broken bones and internal bleeding.
Earlier in the evening, Couch and his friends stole some beer from a local Wal-Mart. The teen was so drunk that, hours after the accident, his blood alcohol content was 0.24 – three times the legal limit for an adult.
The psychologist that coined the term “affluenza” testified that because Couch’s family believed that wealth equaled privilege, he would be better off if he had no contact with his parents and that his life could be turned around with a couple of years of treatment.
Although prosecutors were asking for the maximum 20 years behind bars, Judge Jean Boyd told the court that she would find Couch a long term treatment facility and that the 16 year old would not be released to his parents.
Understandably, this verdict threw the victims’ family members for a loop. They feel that this verdict is just a slap on the wrist, and that the teen basically got away with murder. In other words, privilege and money seemed to have played a major role in the sentencing.
The families of the victims are angry and speaking out in the wake of the verdict. Eric Boyles, who lost both his daughter and wife, believes that, “There needs to be some justice here.” When the verdict came, the distraught husband and father was finally making some progress in his healing process but the shocking news pushed him right back to square one.
The defense, on the other hand, believes that the judge’s verdict was fair. In fact, defense attorney Scott Brown went on the record saying, “There is nothing the judge could have done to lessen the suffering for any of those families.”
If Couch violates the terms of his probation, it is possible that he could face up to two decades of incarceration.