Judge orders “affluenza” teen to rehab after killing 4 while driving drunk

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A judge on Wednesday ordered that Ethan Couch — who drove drunk and caused a crash, killing four people and injuring two — go to a lock-down residential treatment facility.

State District Judge Jean Boyd had already decided the Texas teenager would serve no jail time. He was sentenced last year to 10 years’ probation.

His story made national headlines after a witness claimed Couch was a victim of “affluenza” — the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for the boy.

That particular defense, however, played no part in the judge’s decision, Couch’s lawyer told reporters on Wednesday. Court proceedings were closed to the public.

“She (Boyd) said it (affluenza), and specifically mentioned that that was not a basis for her decision,” said attorney Reagan Wynn. “She heard all the evidence and she made what she thought was the appropriate disposition.”

The judge ordered that Couch’s parents pay for the treatment facility, which was not identified. It was also unclear how long Couch might stay there.

As part of his probation, the teen must refrain from using drugs or alcohol. He will also not be allowed to drive. If Couch violates the terms of his probation, he could face up to 10 years behind bars.

“I think he can be rehabilitated given intensive therapy and I hope that he gets it,” Wynn said about the teen. “The juvenile system is about rehabilitation and if it’s going to be about rehabilitation, she (Boyd) absolutely made the right decision.”

Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter in the crash, disagrees.

He told reporters he has no doubt that money played a role in the case.

“Had he (Couch) 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,” he said Wednesday after the proceedings.

Last June, his wife, Hollie Boyles, and daughter, Shelby, left their home to help Breanna Mitchell, whose SUV had broken down. Brian Jennings, a youth pastor, was driving past and also stopped to help.

All four were killed when the teen’s pickup plowed into the pedestrians on a road in Burleson, south of Fort Worth. Couch’s vehicle also struck a parked car, which then slid into another vehicle headed in the opposite direction.

Two people riding in the bed of the teen’s pickup were tossed in the crash and severely injured. One is no longer able to move or talk because of a brain injury, while the other suffered internal injuries and broken bones.

According to prosecutors, three hours after the crash, tests showed Couch had a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit.

“There has been nothing from Ethan from these proceedings with regards to remorse on his part at all — that I do think would have helped. It would have helped the victims. No doubt about it, it would have helped,” said Boyles.

Prosecutors were similarly disappointed with the judge’s decision.

They had asked for the maximum of 20 years behind bars.

“This has been a very frustrating experience for me,” said prosecutor Richard Alpert. “I’m used to a system where the victims have a voice and their needs are strongly considered. The way the system down here is currently handled, the way the law is, almost all the focus is on the offender.”

By Dana Ford

CNN’s Jason Morris and Ed Lavandera contributed to this report.

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8 comments

  • Linda Hermes

    my daughter was killed by a drunk driver and all she got was 120 day shock, this is a disgrace to all the familys of drunk driver victims and nobody cares…

  • Brandon Holtgrewe

    I find it amusing that the court system believes it’s “Rehabilitation” for the rich, and “Incarceration” for the poor. This just goes to show you, that the parents didn’t give him limits, and neither did the court system. Apparently, you just shrug off killing 4 people and just chalk it up to, “oh well, shit happens”.

  • Stacy Hart

    My Heart pours Out to the victims in this crash. It also pours Out to all involved. With some education on juveniles and adult probation workers I too don’t find everything I just read completely fair to the victims.

    I believe the judge made a pretty good call on the rehab and probation time for this young man but I would have also included a minimum time of community service he would be required to do every month and at least 6 months in the county jail at His expense and not the parents. Showing his income from a job.
    Prison time fOr this young stupid choice this kid did would not help anyone in this situation unless he does not follow the strict rules/ laws set before him.
    As hard as this is on the victims they will need to find forgiveness in their hearts too be able to move forward with their lives as they are now. May God comfort them and help them to be a lighthouse of forgiveness to others and the young man that must carry this burden fOr the rest of his life.
    Note: the young man was surely advised not to say much in court to the family due to it creating more issues for the young man. ..

    • Pat Cary

      Obviously, you have never lost a loved one to a stupid, selfish, idiot who was drunk and on drugs. May you never know the heartache. Until then, you don’t have the ability to make a ‘sound’ judgement or a ‘pretty good call’ regarding the horrible sentence she handed down. My hope is for his parents to now be stripped of all the money they used to cause his ‘illness’.

  • tmf

    Id want the kids scalp if he plowed over my wife and daughter, 2 other people, and injured two of his friends. Id find a way to get it.

  • Kathrn T

    I think he should get the 10 years because for one hes old enough to know right from wrong and two I had a good friend die from a drunk driver there should be tougher laws

  • ByeByeToTheRite

    Ah, same ol’ same ol’. The rich OWN and CONTROL our court and justice system. Gee, how much anybody wanna bet that if the other way around, and this little darling had been killed by any of the four victims who had had just two beers, it would have been a “horrible, senseless, avoidable tragedy” and the average joe would’ve gotten 10 years.

    But it’s the other way around here, the little darling can do no wrong and just needs a few weeks rehab, then he’ll be out driving his new Porshe again on the money he and his family “worked so hard for” er- more likely were born into.

    Oh, well, here’s where it’s time to embrace the tort system. Maybe the families can sue the daylights out of the little jerk, and maybe at least take away a bit of their fat estate, cause we sure can’t expect Republicans to TAX these people, heavens no! And some of you still support Tea Party Republicans who don’t want to raise taxes on trash like this? Wow, how out of touch can one be?

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