Thursday, December 12, 2013


Ethan Couch, a drunken teenage driver,  caused a crash that left four people dead. Earlier on the night of the accident Couch and some friends had stolen beer from a local Wal-Mart. Three hours after the crash, tests showed he had a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit. All four of the pedestrians were killed: the driver of the stranded vehicle, a mother and daughter who stopped to help, and a youth minister who did the same. Couch’s two 15-year-old friends were ejected from his vehicle in the crash. Solimon Mohman suffered a number of broken bones and internal injuries, while Sergio Molina can now only communicate with his eyes because he was paralyzed in the accident.

 His defense was that he himself is a victim -- of "affuenza," according to one psychologist -- the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for the boy. Lawyers for Couch, 16, had argued that the teen's parents should share a part of the blame for the crash because they never set limits for the boy and gave him everything he wanted. To a judge, who sentenced Couch to 10 years' probation but no jail time, he's a defendant in need of treatment. A psychologist reportedly testified that the teen's family felt wealth bought privilege, and that Couch's life could be turned around with one to two years of treatment and no contact with his parents. As part of his sentence, Couch will be sent to a private counseling center that costs $450,000, which will be paid for by his father.

Money and privilege always helps defendants avoid serious prison time for crimes. Eric Boyles lost his wife in the crash ear. He told the Star-Telegram that even though the families knew a harsh sentence wouldn’t bring back their loved ones, the disappointment was palpable.

“Money always seems to keep Couch out of trouble,” Boyles said. “Ultimately today, I felt that money did prevail. If he had been any other youth, I feel like the circumstances would have been different.”

Prosecutor Richard Alpert said he was disappointed in Boyd’s decision and that “there can be no doubt that he will be in another courthouse one day blaming the lenient treatment here.”

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