Texas teenager Ethan Couch was sentenced to 10 years probation — but no jail time — for killing four people in a drunk driving crash after successfully arguing that he was too rich to understand right from wrong.
Couch crashed into and killed Breanna Mitchell, Hollie Boyles, her daughter Shelby, and youth pastor Brian Jennings on June 15.
Mitchell’s SUV had broken down and the Boyles’ left their house to help her. Jennings also stopped on the side of the road to offer assistance. Couch was drunk off beer he and friends had stolen from Walmart, reports CNN. His blood alcohol level was 0.24, three times the legal limit
A psychologist for the defense, Dr. G. Dick Miller, said that Couch could not be held responsible for his actions because he was rich and had never had to face punishment for his transgressions, a condition jokingly called “affluenza.”
Miller said Couch had been given, “freedoms no young person should have,” citing a time that 15-year-old Couch received no parental punishment after he was found in a pickup with a passed out 14-year-old naked girl and ticketed by police.
Eric Boyles, the husband and father of two of the victims, is understandably outraged with the verdict.
“Let’s face it. … There needs to be some justice here,” he told Anderson Cooper. “For 25 weeks, I’ve been going through a healing process. And so when the verdict came out, I mean, my immediate reaction is — I’m back to week 1. We have accomplished nothing here. My healing process is out the window.”
Couch was not released to his parents but rather will be put in a long-term treatment facility and is barred from contacting his parents. They will have to pony up the $450,000 price tag of the treatment, however.
Couch could have received up to 20 years of prison for his crimes. Assistant District Attorney Richard Alpert said the prosecution is extremely unhappy with judge Jean Boyd’s decision.
Alpert said, “We are disappointed by the punishment assessed but have no power under the law to change or overturn it. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and we regret that this outcome has added to the pain and suffering they have endured.”