BURLESON, Texas – 16-year-old Ethan Couch was found guilty this week of killing four people and injuring ten more while driving drunk. However, instead of the 20 years in prison prosecutors were hoping for, State District Judge Jean Boyd agreed with the defense’s argument that Couch suffered from being rich and only sentenced the youth to probation. In addition, families of the victims were ordered to pay for any and all damages to Couch’s vehicle which may have occurred during the accident that ended the lives of their loved ones.
“I’m just glad the Judge was able to see past the deaths and do what was in the best interests of Ethan,” said psychologist Dr. G. Dick Miller, who testified for the defense that Couch was a victim of “affluenza,” where his family felt that wealth bought privilege and there was no rational link between behavior and consequences. “This poor boy has had money shoved down his throat and been allowed to get away with whatever he wanted since birth. It will do him a world of good to see other people pay to fix the very truck with which he killed their loved ones.”
Couch, who along with seven other boys had stolen the alcohol from Walmart immediately before the accident, had a Blood Alcohol Content of .24, and was driving 70 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour zone. He clipped an SUV parked by the side of the road and plowed into four individuals, including a Baptist Church youth minister. According to reports, he was belligerent at the scene of the accident, at one point saying, “I’m outta here.”
“Ethan’s used to paying for everything without blinking,” said his father. “To have to stand by and watch bereaved husbands and parents pay money they probably don’t have to fix the truck I gave him is going to crush him. Just crush him.”
“Now he’ll finally see that his actions have consequences,” said his mother. “For other people.”
In choosing to force the victim’s families to pay for the truck, Judge Boyd had been especially moved by the story of how a year earlier Couch had received no punishment from his parents after being found by police in a parked pickup with a passed out, undressed, 14-year-old-girl. “Only the very wealthy can get away with things like that,” she said. “It has to have been such a burden for the boy.”