Tarrant County, TX- The Texas judge who gave no jail time to a wealthy teen accused of killing four people in drunken driving accident is facing increasing pressure to revisit her sentence and jail the teen for two assault charges.
Last week, Judge Jean Boyd sentenced Ethan Couch to 10 years in prison after psychologist testified that he suffered from “affluenza,” a term used to describe individuals who are shielded from consequences because of their wealth. The psychologist said Couch’s parents never set any boundaries for the child and taught the boy, who was essentially left to raise himself, that his money could buy him out of trouble.
Couch was three times the state’s legal limit and had valium in his system when he plowed into a group of four pedestrians trying to help a stranded motorist. Those pedestrians were killed instantly and two teens riding in the back of Couch’s were seriously injured. Couch was caught by police walking away from the scene of the horrific crash.
Instead, of spending time in a juvenile detention facility, the wealth teen was given 10 years of probation and will be sent to a posh treatment facility in California, for which his father will pay $450,000 a year.
The Judge Boyd’s sentence came at a time when the gap between the rich and the poor has widened in the country. Neuropsychologist Michelle London wrote in the Daily Beast, Couch’s sentence, “plinks on the nerves of race, privilege, junk science, and recent pivots in our American values whereby money outweighs morals.” London added the case “brings a neon highlighter to what so many of us already unfortunately know and accept to be true about the gross inequities in our justice system: privilege still exists and money can buy special treatment.”
The families of those who were killed said the judge’s sentence reinforced, to the boy and the rest of the country, that wealth can keep a person out of trouble. The deceased’s families and the families of the two boys that were seriously injured have filed civil lawsuits against Couch’s parents seeking millions of dollars in damages.
After handing down this ridiculously light sentence Judge Boyd came under fire and now prosecutors have moved to send the spoiled rich kid to jail. Prosecutors say that since Couch pleaded guilty to four charges of intoxication manslaughter the judge could reverse her previous ruling, though there is no indication she will.
Prosecutors are also looking into whether they can send Couch to three years in a juvenile detention facility by having him plead guilty to the intoxication assault charges.
“There has been no verdict formally entered in the two intoxication assault cases. Every case deserves a verdict,” Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Some legal experts say that it is unlikely that a judge would give Couch a harsher sentence for the intoxication manslaughter and that the juvenile system works on the principle that young offenders can be rehabilitated.
Judge Boyd, who is retiring next year has been criticized for her ruling in the case especially after reports surfaced that she sentenced a poor black teenager who assaulted and killed another boy with a forceful punch to jail.