A judge on Tuesday decided to give a Texas teenager who killed four in a drunken driving accident a 10 year probation sentence rather than jail time after defense attorneys argued the teen’s parents spoiled him and never taught him right from wrong.
Ethan Couch, a 16-year-old with wealthy parents, faced up to 20 years in prison for the deadly accident he caused. Likely stunning many, he instead emerged from a courtroom in Fort worth with 10 years of probation after entering a guilty plea.
State District Judge Jean Boyd’s decision to keep Couch out of jail has understandably angered the crash victims’ families.
Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter in the wreck, told the Star-Telegram that money “always seems to keep [Couch] out of trouble.”
“Ultimately today, I felt that money did prevail. If [he] had been any other youth, I feel like the circumstances would have been different,” he added.
Marla Mitchell, whose daughter died in the accident, said even though he avoided jail time, “He’s not free.”
“None of us knows what God’s plan is. He has not escaped judgment. That is in the hands of a higher power,” she said.
Boyd also ordered the teenager to receive therapy at a long-term, in-patient facility, the report states. Couch remains in a Tarrant County juvenile detention facility while officials decide on a treatment program.
More on the accident from the Star-Telegram:
The 16-year-old pleaded guilty last week to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury. Killed were Breanna Mitchell of Lillian, whose car broke down the night of June 15 on Burleson-Retta Road; Hollie and Shelby Boyles, who lived nearby and had come outside to help Mitchell; and Burleson youth minister Brian Jennings, a passer-by who had also stopped to help.
The teen admitted to being drunk when he lost control of his pickup. He had seven passengers in his Ford F-350, was speeding, had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit, plus traces of Valium in his system, according to earlier testimony.
Two teens riding in the bed of the teen’s pickup were critically injured. Solimon Mohmand had numerous broken bones and internal injuries. Sergio Molina remains paralyzed and communicates by blinking his eyes, according to testimony last week.
Defense attorneys enlisted a psychologist to testify that the teen had essentially raised himself and he had an emotional age of 12.
“The teen never learned to say that you’re sorry if you hurt someone. If you hurt someone, you sent him money,” the psychologist, Gary Miller, said.
“He never learned that sometimes you don’t get your way,” Miller added. “He had the cars and he had the money. He had freedoms that no young man would be able to handle.”
Watch CBS DFW’s report:
(H/T: New York Post)