Tarrant County, TX- In his second trial, a judge ordered Ethan Couch—who killed four people and seriously injured two in a drunken driving crash last summer—to go to a residential treatment facility. The judgment again angered the victims’ families who believe Couch was getting off easy because he’s rich.
Couch’s December trial for the four manslaughter charges garnered national attention after psychologist testified he suffered from “affluenza” a condition in which the teen’s privileged life left him unable to understand the consequences of his actions.
Judge Jean Boyd sentenced Couch to 10 years’ probation for the manslaughter charges and ordered him to enter a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. At the time, his parents offered to pay $450,000 for a treatment facility in Newport, California.
Both the families of the victims and the nation as whole were outraged the wealthy teen was given such a light sentence. The judgment highlighted the disparity in the American Justice system, with many pointing out that if the teen had come from poor or minority family he would have likely been sentenced to spend some time behind bars.
Last June, Couch was driving with several friends in his pickup truck when he plowed into a group of pedestrians who stopped to help a stranded motorist. Four people, Hollie Boyles, Shelby Boyles, Brianna Mitchell and Brian Jennings, were killed.
Two of the seven passengers in Couch’s truck were seriously injured. Sergio Molino suffered severe spinal injuries and is now paralyzed and can only communicate by blinking his eyes. Another teen, Solimon Mohmand, suffered numerous broken bones and internal injuries, Fox News reported.
Two hours after the accident, Couch who was 16 at the time was twice the legal limit and had Valium in his system.
During his second trial Tarrant County prosecutors asked Couch be sentenced to 20 years in jail, as a last ditch effort, but again Judge Boyd sentence the teen to a lock-down treatment facility, which will be paid for by his parents.
The families of the victims noted that during both trials Couch showed no remorse for his actions and believe he was able to avoid jail because he was rich.
“Had he not had money to have the defense there, to also have the experts testify and also offer to pay for the treatment, I think the results would have been different,” Eric Broyles, whose wife and daughter were killed, told MyFoxDFW.com.
Judge Boyd stood by her sentence noting that the juvenile system is meant to rehabilitate young offenders.
Couch will not be allowed to drive or use drugs or alcohol during his ten years’ probation, if he violates he could spend the rest of his sentence behind bars.
The Couch family is now facing six civil lawsuits for wrongful death and personal injury, according to the Star Telegram.
Prosecutor Richard Alpert said he hopes the Couch case will compel the Texas legislature change the laws so juries can sentence some juvenile offenders.