It’s the “Affluenza” case that has victims and many others appalled. Should Ethan Couch, a 17 year old who grew up with a sense of entitlement and poor judgment who became involved in drunk driving fatality, be simply placed on probation instead of drawing a jail term?
Couch was sentenced by a Texas judge, Jean Boyd, on probation and with a drug and rehab program for an unspecified time. His lawyer used the ‘affluenza’ defense during last year’s trial saying his coddling by parents had lead to his bad judgment and sense of entitlement – as if that were the disability that lead to the offending.
USA Today reports that prosecutors said Couch’s blood-alcohol level was three times the Texas legal limit when his pickup slammed into a group of people who were helping a woman with a stalled car last June. The driver, Breanna Mitchell, and bystanders Brian Jennings, Hollie Boyes and daughter Shelby, were killed. Nine others were injured.
According to police, Couch was going 70 mph in a 40 mph zone when he lost control of his father’s pickup and his blood alcohol content was 0.24. The state’s legal limit for adults is 0.08.
Couch, who pleaded earlier to four counts of intoxication manslaughter, was back in court this week after prosecutors again sought a 20-year jail term related to the crash. But in a hearing closed to the media, Boyd reaffirmed her earlier sentence.
Two Texas gubernatorial candidates have spoken out on the case, while court observers and psychologists say the affluenza defense could be used in future cases involving juveniles, sending a dangerous message that could reinforce reckless behavior and poor judgment.
Couch had been cited earlier last year for being a minor in possession of alcohol and consuming alcohol as a minor, pleading no contest to both charges in a March hearing.