“I’m Outta Here”: Wealthy Texas Teen Kills Four People, Seriously Injures Others, In DUI Case . . . Given Probation and No Jail Time

250px-Richie_Rich_comic_No_1There is a bizarre case out of Texas where Ethan Couch, 16, was facing 20 years for killing four people in a drunk driving incident. His wealthy family hired a top gun trial attorney and leading expert who invoked what could be called the Richie Rich defense — Couch’s long spoiled lifestyle in the top one percent left him uncaring and irresponsible . . . and left four people dead. It would seem the type of argument that would produce a lynching rather than a light sentence in front of most juries. However, Couch was in front of State District Judge Jean Boyd, who sentenced him to probation and therapy. Couch, it turns out, predicted the outcome. Described as non-cooperative at the accident scene, he reportedly said “I’m Outta here” and walked away.

Couch pleaded guilty to driving drunk and could certainly expect a reduction in light of the plea. However, few people expected no jail time. However, the defense insisted that what Couch needed was therapy and argued that such therapy would cost more than $450,000 a year at a rehabilitation facility near Newport Beach, California– which would be paid by his wealthy parents. Half a million a year? That is the highest claim that I have encountered in such cases.

At trial, the defense expert Gary Miller trashed the parents as messing up their son, particularly after a bitter divorce. The father was described as someone who “does not have relationships, he takes hostages.” The mother was described as a materialistic individual right out of Bonfire of the Vanities with a “mantra was that if it feels good, do it.” The accident fittingly occurred on Father’s Day.

Miller insisted that Couch basically raised himself. An ironic argument since he would have received more jail time as an abusive parent than as the killer for four people in this case.

As a result, Couch walked despite a plea to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury. Couch had seven passengers in his Ford F-350. Seven. Two were riding in his bed of the truck. Those two kids were seriously injured. Solimon Mohmand had extensive broken bones and internal injuries while Sergio Molina remains paralyzed and communicates by blinking his eyes. Therapy is not going to do much for Molina.

131211204106-ac-intv-boyles-teen-drunk-driver-probation-00010519-story-bodyDjF8o.St.58The dead included Breanna Mitchell who was by the side of the road with a broken car; Hollie and Shelby Boyles (right), who came out of their homes to help Mitchell; and Burleson youth minister Brian Jennings (shown left), a passer-by who had also stopped to help. Couch was going 70 miles an hour (in a 40 miles an hour zone) when he smashed into the car.

Couch had a BAL that was three times the legal limit as well as Valium in his system.

He appears narcissistic and spoiled but one would think that holding him accountable would have tremendous therapeutic value. If not, it would do wonders for the families of the victims.

Yet, Couch asked for the judge to sentence him — a smart move.

The irony did not escape Tarrant County assistant district attorney who noted that under this “too spoiled to care” defense “[t]here can be no doubt that he will be in another courthouse one day blaming the lenient treatment he received here.”

2pics_richgirlNow Couch can move on with this life. One possible dating prospect can be found in New York with Rachael Sacks who attracted a firestorm with a published essay on why “I’m Not Going To Pretend That I’m Poor To Be Accepted By You” . Sacks has words that might resonate with Master Couch: “People have been very mean to me. But people have been mean to me my whole life, so what. They think I’m a spoiled brat, and I am.”

There has been no public word from the parents who were featured so prominently in their son’s defense and candidates for the worst parents — let along people — in the world. Judging from the expert testimony, the response to the verdict of the mother was likely something like this:

The father was also no doubt celebrating:

115 thoughts on ““I’m Outta Here”: Wealthy Texas Teen Kills Four People, Seriously Injures Others, In DUI Case . . . Given Probation and No Jail Time

  1. Choices…..this young man made some very careless ones! This won’t be the last time he’ll be inside a court room. This will only perpetuate his problems.

  2. Terrible. I wonder if in Texas the prosecutor can appeal the light sentence?

    I’ll bet the parents will continue to insist they “had” to pay for their son’s 1/2 million dollar “treatment” per year but will claim they cannot pay damages to any of the victims.

  3. The judge who granted this pass should be taken off the bench and the prosecution should appeal. An investigation into how such a travesty occurred should be done. It isn’t hard to understand why people are so very cynical about the criminal justice system when bankers and rich murders go free.

  4. In this case, no re-trial and sentencing would be nearly as effective as outsourcing ALL of the problem peoples accountability to the Mafia, starting with the Judge.

  5. Part of America’s two-tiered justice system; one for the wealthy and connected and one for the rest of us. Compare Couch’s ‘justice’ to that of a poor person:

    At about 12.40pm on 2 January 1996, Timothy Jackson took a jacket from the Maison Blanche department store in New Orleans, draped it over his arm, and walked out of the store without paying for it. When he was accosted by a security guard, Jackson said: “I just needed another jacket, man.”

    A few months later Jackson was convicted of shoplifting and sent to Angola prison in Louisiana. That was 16 years ago. Today he is still incarcerated in Angola, and will stay there for the rest of his natural life having been condemned to die in jail. All for the theft of a jacket, worth $159.


    America is certainly the land of the free for the wealthy, but not the poor and increasingly the middle class. Paraphrasing Lincoln, that this government of the wealthy, by the wealthy, for the wealthy, shall not perish from the earth.

  6. Question(s): he was 16? Is (or was) he considered a minor/juvenile deliquent or an adult in Texas? If he is considered a minor, then can you really ‘throw the book’ at him? How many 16 year olds are cognizant of and/or mature enough to know that the rules of the road applies to everyone,regardless of what he/she learned in drivers’ education or high school? Should we increase the driving age to 18 or 21?

  7. What JH said.

    Jaime D. – Look for more on that topic this weekend.

    RWL – I’ve long thought that drivers license are too easy and too cheap to obtain in this country and the driving age should be 18 (unless exceptional circumstance can be demonstrated and then 16 but only after administrative or judicial review).

  8. Couch was tried in juvenile court by a judge who is not seeking reelection. It was his lucky day to be in front of this particular judge and also tried as a juvenile rather than an adult. Not such a lucky day for the victims and their families.

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    Outrage follows probation for teen who killed four in crash


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    FORT WORTH — A juvenile court judge sentenced 16-year-old Ethan Couch to 10 years’ probation Tuesday for the drunken driving crash that killed four people.

    Judge Jean Boyd could have sentenced Couch to 20 years behind bars.

    Youth pastor Brian Jennings; mother and daughter Hollie and Shelby Boyles; and 24-year-old Breanna Mitchell died in the June 15 accident.

    Boyd told the teen that he is responsible for what happened, but she didn’t believe he would receive the necessary therapy in jail.

    Loved ones of victims left through a back door. They had spent the afternoon speaking directly to Couch about how the crash changed their lives. They wanted him to serve some jail time.

    The widow of one of the victims looked at the defendant and said, “Ethan, we forgive you.”

    Couch swallowed hard and appeared to tear up a little bit in the courtroom upon hearing those words.

    Marla Mitchell, Breanna’s mother, told News 8 outside the courtroom she was “mad” about the sentence.

    “He’ll be feeling the hand of God, definitely,” she said. “He may think he got away with something, but he hasn’t gotten away with anything.”

    Alex Lumas, whose brother was paralyzed in the accident, expressed similar disbelief at the probation sentence.

    “To me, it’s not right,” he said.

    Prior to sentencing, a psychologist called by the defense, Dr. G. Dick Miller, testified that Couch’s life could be salvaged with one to two years’ treatment and no contact with his parents.

    Investigators said Couch was driving a pickup truck between 68 and 70 miles-per-hour in a 40 mph zone. The four who died were standing on the side of the road outside their vehicle. Nine others were hurt.

    Miller said Couch’s parents gave him “freedoms no young person should have.” He called Couch a product of “affluenza,” where his family felt that wealth bought privilege and there was no rational link between behavior and consequences.

    He said Couch got whatever he wanted. As an example, Miller said Couch’s parents gave no punishment after police ticketed the then-15-year-old when he was found in a parked pickup with a passed out, undressed, 14-year-old girl.

    Miller also pointed out that Couch was allowed to drive at age 13. He said the teen was emotionally flat and needed years of therapy.

    At the time of the fatal wreck, Couch had a blood alcohol content of 0.24, said Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson, three times the legal limit of .08 for an adult.

    It is illegal for a minor to drive with any amount of alcohol in his or her system.

    Judge Boyd could have sentenced Couch to up to 20 years.

    Defense attorneys asked that he be sent to a small, private home in California which offers intensive one-on-one therapy. They said Couch’s father would pay the entire $450,000 price tag.

    Prosecutors pointed out that the juvenile justice system also offers counseling.

  10. “But while not disputing that Couch had broken the law by drinking as a minor and driving under the influence, a psychologist testifying on his behalf argued that he had developed a condition called “affluenza” because his family’s wealth had led him to grow up with a feeling of entitlement.”


    “Affluenzia”? Really? What does the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) say about that? I’m a layperson so it just sounds like whatever the well paid grifter/mental-health professional thought the court would buy.

  11. Gene,
    Regarding your reply to RWL. My granddaughter’s fiance is Canadian, from Ontario. He is 22 years old and still does not have a driver’s license. He tells me that getting a driver’s license in Canada is a big deal, takes months and costs a lot. He lives in an urban area, and relies on public transportation. I am sure that saves on gas and insurance.

  12. And their ‘expert” said “Couch got whatever he wanted. As an example, Miller said Couch’s parents gave no punishment after police ticketed the then-15-year-old when he was found in a parked pickup with a passed out, undressed, 14-year-old girl.”. And this paid ‘professional” and the Court. also gave him what he wanted instead of wha he needed, as did the idea od justice.
    Sadly he will probably be in front of a court on another day for hopefully nothing that can even come close to the destruction and havoc he wrought in this instance and that judge will teach him there is a price to be paid. Occurs to me maybe his punishment should have included having to be an aide to the person who is permanently paralyzed but maybe this kid has no conscience (slightly teared up? big deal) so the struggle his victim has to face each day would not even faze him.

  13. lottakatz, re “Affluenza”: It is a jerk making a joke about mass death and carnage; the psychologist is just as much a sociopath as the kid and his parents. Sociopaths really know how to find each other; start waving money and the aroma attracts them like moths to a flame.

  14. ” He (Ethan Couch) will stay in Tarrant County juvenile detention until the juvenile probation department prepares a report about possible treatment programs.

    If the teen violates the terms of his probation, he could be sent to prison for 10 years.”

    Although the 1% lawyer team representing Couch recommended the California facility for their 1% client, the final decision will be made by the juvenile probation detention department.

    The 1% psychologist, Gary Miller, gave interesting testimony which is quoted extensively in the McClatchy link I will include at the end of this post.

    The rationalization offered to the family and friend’s of the dead and injured by Couch’s 1% attorney for the 1% judge’s sentence:

    ‘Scott Brown, an attorney who represented the teen with Reagan Wynn, said the teen could have been freed in two years if Boyd had sentenced him to 20 years.

    “She fashioned a sentence that could have him under the thumb of the justice system for the next 10 years,” Brown said.’

    The special 1% justice system worked quite well for this 1% teenager. May the ghosts of the 4 dead 99%ers forever hover over all their heads.


  15. I think that we should convict and punish by virtue of what the newspapers and media say. That judge may have had some information that the AP or Reuters does not have, but who cares. It is the media that matters. Is not the media the message? Ou se trouve une toilet en America? He needs a driver not prison time. This is not me Beldar talking, but some dog named BarkinDog who is barking in my ear. I have got to fix his barking machine or get the heck out of Florida.

  16. Imagine the setece that would be received if the defedant was poor, or even middle class economically? Thus be it ever in the “land of the free”.

  17. Tony, your explanation sounds about right to this layperson, thanks.

    Blouise, the fact that some court jurisdiction is retained is the only redeeming fact in this whole story. I suspect they will see him again.

  18. Burleson is not an affluent area…..Many kids get a hardship license at 13 as Couch did. They drive big trucks and drink a lot…. probably own a few guns. The difference is the rest of them would not be going to treatment in California. They would be in the Texas state system for a long time. The family must be big fish in Burleson.

  19. The father was described as someone who “does not have relationships, he takes hostages.” The mother was described as a materialistic individual right out of Bonfire of the Vanities with a “mantra was that if it feels good, do it.”

    That describes a whole lot of families in Texas rich or poor, old or young, urban or rural; I’ve had the displeasure of working with many of them

  20. Hey … Laura Bush killed an ex-boyfriend when she ran a stop sign and T-boned his truck and she became First Lady by marrying a 1%er. Strangely enough, she doesn’t want to talk about it … killing someone, I mean. There are all kinds of ways to say “I’m Outta Here”.

  21. I don’t know that it’s just Texas. In my psychiatric tech days in New England, I had numerous adolescent and young adult patients withsimilar backgrounds who had had numerous second chances despite violent crimes. Even as adults people can get away with this. If he was less well off, I doubt he would have had this “sentence”.

    Even taking into account his status as a minor, the severity of the crime should be a consideration. If the parents are to be considered contributory then they should be part of any intervention that’s required. They also should be under family services’ supervision.

  22. Lrobby99 1, December 12, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    He’ll be President one day.


    Or maybe the spouse of a president:

    Mrs. Bush ran stop sign in fatal crash

    Mrs. Bush ran stop sign in fatal crash

    AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Details in a 1963 accident report say that Laura Bush, then 17, ran a stop sign in the Texas crash that killed a friend in another car. The report, adding information to previous reports of the crash, was released to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

    Mrs. Bush now is the wife of Republican presidential nominee-to-be George W. Bush, the Texas governor.

    ”It was a very tragic accident that deeply affected the families and was very painful for all involved, including the community at large,” said Mrs. Bush’s spokesman, Andrew Malcolm. ”To this day, Mrs. Bush remains unable to talk about it.”

  23. “It was a very tragic accident that deeply affected the families and was very painful for all involved, including the community at large,” said Mrs. Bush’s spokesman, Andrew Malcolm. ”To this day, Mrs. Bush remains unable to talk about it.”


    Yeah, probably a confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement.

    Forgive the snark.

  24. mespo,

    “Yeah, probably a confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement.

    Forgive the snark.”

    You say snark, I say probably accurate assessment.

    There is nothing to forgive.😉

  25. this is one of those time that’s it’s better if i don’t share what i’m thinking.

    cause i’d probably get more time than little earthen (ethan, whatever)

  26. **Gene H. 1, December 12, 2013 at 2:10 pm


    “Yeah, probably a confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement.

    Forgive the snark.”

    You say snark, I say probably accurate assessment.

    There is nothing to forgive.😉

    We’ve seen for years these “confidentiality clauses” used by Wallst type firms.

    There’s something I don’t understand.

    In many cases the guilty party agrees to pay money to the plaintiff if the plaintiff agrees to withhold evidence of the defendant’s crimes to the general public at large.

    My question is why doesn’t lawyers of other injured parties sue those that are signing those Aid/Abetting after the fact “confidentiality clauses”?

  27. Justice Holmes 1, December 12, 2013 at 11:13 am

    The judge who granted this pass should be taken off the bench and the prosecution should appeal. An investigation into how such a travesty occurred should be done. It isn’t hard to understand why people are so very cynical about the criminal justice system when bankers and rich murders go free.
    If you can’t follow the money because they drag a tree behind the pony, follow the immunity, it is more difficult if not impossible to hide, and it leads to the temple too.

  28. How in the world does this judge let this psychopath go so lightly and still sleep well on his pile of money in the Cayman islands?

  29. Oh well, Just saying that Gary Cartwright’s book about the T. Cullen Davis trial lcaptures the ethos of Tarrant County.

  30. SWM,

    That’s weird. I can see the words you typed:

    “Probably the most famous trial in Tarrant County was that of wealthy oilman man, T. Cullen Davis. If one is interested in the ethos of that culture, this book captures it.”

    But, they don’t show up when viewed. I thought the graphic was covering them up, but after adding numerous carriage returns, they still wouldn’t pop out from the bottom.

  31. SWM,

    Thanks for filling in the blanks on the Davis case. After I read this article I kept trying to remember his name. I have visited everyone of the contiguous 48 States except for Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Oklahoma. During the many times in my youth I went “on the road” cross country I avoided those States for fear of my life.

  32. There will be more to come out of this case….. I know a little about the family and it’s not pretty……. T. Cullen Davis … Comes to mind but he’s not the only one to her away with vehicular manslaughter….. In the state of Texas…. How about Laura welch…..now bush….. How about ted Kennedy…. Many others many places…..

  33. MikeS,Swm,

    I find it interesting now that people are moving to some of these states for their families safety while others are moving the other way for the same reasons.

    Mostly along their personal feelings of the 2nd amd/anti-socialism vs anti-2nd/pro socialism, it seems to me.

  34. Oky, You might have a point although most people move because of a job or family. One thing for sure is that if you want to get gay married you won’t be moving south. I don’t think one would move to Texas for safety… the crime rate is high and and the number of insured is high. I am aligned with Pope Francis and not Rick Perry when it comes to social welfare. Also, I am opposed to the death penalty.

  35. I seem to recall a state wide judge most recently announced he was going from the GOP to the D side…. He was welcomed with open arms by the SDEx…. Hinjosia….

  36. Hope he runs into me some day. I am old and when I witness bad behavior I just don’t give a crap any more. Really, it only takes one person on the scene to mete out some basic justice.

  37. Did I miss something here? If this kid was tried as a juvenile, why are we hearing about the decision? Aren’t most juvenile cases kept secret? Sad case for all concerned. This kid ruined an entire family and his family is non-existent.

  38. Raff,

    The district court is the felony court in the state of Texas….as well as certain misdemeanors…..District courts have original jurisdiction in all felony criminal cases, divorce cases, land title disputes, election contests, civil matters in which at least $200 is disputed or claimed in damages, as well as other matters. Most district courts consider both criminal and civil cases but, in counties with many courts, each may specialize in civil, criminal, juvenile, or family law matters.

    So the answer in short is could be….

  39. **Oky1, Oklahoma is far worse than Texas. **


    That’s part of why I’m still here, it keeps a lot of that Yankee/Cali riffraff out.:)

    Over 10 years ago & still today I’m being advised to get citizenship in a 2nd country as the USA is headed straight into hell. And that does seem the verifiable case mathematically.

    Your USA credit Card for this type socialism for Wallst is at about it’s limit SwM.

    Only trouble is in most of the known 5000+ years of history the USA is the only one with this type of “Preamble to the Bill of Rights” & the “Rights” there in contained.

    Of interest to me is with all those places in the world with those socialist Utopian govts like most of Europe, Mexico & North Korea why are so many out to convert & destroy this country’s democratic Republic. Why don’t they just leave us be & they move to their socialist utopian dream?

    I’d rather live among all these Jesus freaks the among the NY/ Bloomberg mafia goons.

    E pluribus unum, If we are to all be pounded into & homogenized into one let it be that were forged into Thomas Jefferson/James Madison’s vision & not the Hitler/Stalin/King George the Red Coat type tyrants that the world has known since both & after the founding of this nation.

  40. It is refreshing to see that a reasonable verdict was reached in a case that could have resulted in tragic results for a promising young man. The judge apparently recognized that young Ethan is more equal than the typical hoodie-wearing scum that attempt to excuse their crimes on poverty or a poor upbringing.

    When those who are destined to become leaders in the future make a mistake, leniency should be granted. To ruin Ethan’s bright future merely because of a car accident would be a real crime.

    Now, let us all pray that Ethan will be rehabilitated so that he may realize all of his dreams. Sure it is unfortunate that some people died, but Ethan didn’t intentionally kill them and for all we know they were stoned on drugs. Perhaps God was acting through Ethan in order to rid the earth of these people who probably didn’t rise to the grand stature of Ethan.

    We can all be thankful that we live in a country where there is a fair system of justice for the best and brightest who are often persecuted by those envious of their superior status.

  41. So first his parents gave him no consequences and left him irresponsible and uncaring. And now the judge has done the same.

  42. Poor, 14 years old, kill one person… 10 years behind bars
    Rich, 16 years old, kill four people… 10 years probation


  43. In addition of the Dr. Drew interview:

    It appears that the judge and psychologist court appointed sociopaths, happen to think only rich people, (aka those who can afford it) deserve one free murder before they’re placed behind bars…

  44. Max-1 1, December 13, 2013 at 1:03 am

    Poor, 14 years old, kill one person… 10 years behind bars
    Rich, 16 years old, kill four people… 10 years probation

    Yep, Granted something like this could happen in other states but Texas is very out front with regards to showing favoritism to the country club set.

  45. So, since this is Texas we’re talking about, what’s the over-under on a disgruntled relative or friend of one of the victims seeking out Young Mr. Couch in pursuit of some payback?

  46. Thanks for the kind words Gene, Mike & Darren, but actually I’m a 56-year-old sitdown curmudgeon. I didn’t set out to be ironic.
    A little satire – sure. My muse is mockery and ridicule of the establishment elite. I couldn’t care less about drunk teenagers or former Marines that are lesbian waitresses that feign victimhood as they have little effect on the world around them.

    The real irony here is that my words are considered ironic while millions of people in America actually think along similar lines, manifesting itself in presidents like Bush and Obama – who murder thousands of people and enable financial grifters to run amok – to live like royalty after having been youthful users of illegal drugs that they demand your children should be punished for, sometimes jailed, thereby ruining future prospects for youngsters who preferred smoking a joint to drinking booze.

    Ironic is a mild word to describe what America is and always has been. But what do I know, I’m a crazy anarchist and have been stoned for decades.

  47. How much will the judge get. No wonder she is going to retire. I will tell everyone I know her name and her story. She will become infamous!

  48. The sentence can’t be appealed under double jeopardy, but the families are certainly in their rights ti bring wrongful death suits. If the parents’ behavior was his defense, then it’s certainly proper that they be sued by those affected by his actions.

  49. Skip,

    You are correct as I understand it… But the attorney general Gregg Abbott who’s running for governor has indicated that he will seek to intervene….. This right is very muddy in the state of Texas…. Especially if this was treated as a juvenile case it’s all a civil matter…. No specific right to appeal an action such as this….. So the legislature may intervene….. When they are in session….. There are folks calling for the judges head…. They still have the civil remedy to sue the parents as owner of the vehicle…..

    Here’s an interesting article……


  50. He was in JUVINILE court not adult court so had he been sentenced to the 20 years( 5 years per life) NOT ENOUGH IN THE FIRST PLACE he would have likely been FREE in 2 years. His record sealed. He should have been tried as an adult .

  51. I assume “affluence” was plead by Mr. Allen’s attorney as an affirmative defense in the penalty phase of the juvenile proceeding, The State futzed up by the numbers in this case. First, The State of Texas should have
    gotten Allen waived from Juvenile to Adult Criminal Justice system. Here,
    on the facts of the case and, looking ahead, the potential outcome and consequences of not doing so, should have have been very apparent to the State’s legal team. Mr. Allen’s attorneys “Gamed the system from the start and outsmarted the State’s legal team. That is what comes of having money to buy the best legal defense your parents can afford. So, too bad, so sorry, nuff said, poo poo happens, move on folks noting to do now but move on. . Of course, if you follow this case along, the next phase of the
    case may offend your collective senses of justice and fairness even more so. Allen’s parents most likely have or will insulate their wealth in trusts in order to to keep it out of the hands of the judgment creditors who may sue them and Mr. Allen.

    What drove the outcome of the case was this. Allen was tried as a juvenile, not an adult. In all our states that is why juvenile justice is not the same as adult criminal justice and there are different standards of fairness, equity, and justice. The victims’ rights are always, always subordinated to the juvenile’s rights because of our historical and religious the mantra of rehab-ilitation,

    Second, in the penalty phase regardless of the fact the rules of evidence are the same or similar, it is a bench trial not a jury trial, and a judge, not a jury hears and weighs the evidence. In this case, the State attorneys let the Defense get considered a questionable pie theory of affluence as a valid affirmative defense. Myself I prefer to call it the Richie Rich defense, it has a less medico-legal ring to it. The State’s attorneys apparently did introduce or use their own experts and any expert testimony to refute or impeach the defense’s evidence. You would have to read the record and trial transcript and this friends you cannot do. you cannot do so. Juvenile proceedings, remember?

    One final one from a kibbutzer. Hey,State attorneys, did you even consider pretrial discovery? Did you consider witness and exhibits lists? Did you use any of them in this case?

  52. The judge who granted this pass should be audited by the IRS for the next 10 years+ and the prosecution should appeal.

    I’m actually kinda stunned no one else here has made this suggestion.

  53. While this is sure to be an unpopular opinion – especially in the “lock the door and throw the key away” climate of the United States – it does need to be emphasized that we are dealing with a juvenile here. Juveniles are not just mini adults; they are, legally and literally, children. Treating children differently than adults in a separate juvenile criminal justice system was a great advance in our legal system, an advance that should not be discounted no matter the natural desire for retribution that arises in such tragic circumstances.

    While I understand that it is quite likely – especially in Texas – that a poor child of color would be treated quite differently, this does not justify simply throwing another child on to the dung heap that is our historically unjust prison system. Rather, this instance should be an argument for treating poor children, who are often reclassified as “adults” in these circumstances, as children in a system designed for children.

    It is likely that the clout of the parents was of more use in keeping the sixteen year old in the juvenile system (as opposed to being tried as an adult) rather than the admittedly silly success of the so called “affluenza” argument. Once the defendant was kept in the juvenile system, the judge’s options were, by design, limited. From the Star-Telegram:

    “Scott Brown, the teen’s lead defense attorney, said the teen could have been freed after two years if he had drawn the 20-year sentence. Instead, the judge “fashioned a sentence that could have him under the thumb of the justice system for the next 10 years,” he told the Star-Telegram.”

    While the 20 year sentence might have looked good on the prosecutor’s trophy wall, the practical result would likely have been quite a bit less than is being demanded by the hard-liners. With this sentence, the teen will be under the control of the probationary system, and, should he violate that probation, he could be sent to prison for ten years. He will also be receiving what is likely to be better and more effective treatment than would be possible were his parents not rich. From the same article:

    “As reported by the Star-Telegram on Wednesday, Boyd said that programs available in the Texas juvenile justice system might not provide the intensive therapy the teen could receive at a rehabilitation center in California as proposed by the defense. The parents agreed to pay for treatment, which was estimated to cost about $450,000.

    “He will stay in Tarrant County juvenile detention until the juvenile probation department prepares a report about treatment options. If he violates the probation, he could be sent to prison for 10 years. [bold added]”

    I get that one point of this piece is inequality, and I agree with that point wholeheartedly. But the numerous calls for a pound of flesh from this kid do not put a single bankster or torturer in prison. Sure, the rich receive better treatment from our legal system, but calling for rich children to be treated in the manifestly unjust way we treat the poor is not progress. Rather we should strive for similar justice to be applied universally.

    I also request that Mr. Turley consider removing the juvenile’s name from this piece.

  54. As I was reading, I was thinking what fiver said. Just wanted you to know you weren’t alone in your assessment.

  55. Reblogged this on Shouts from the Abyss and commented:
    Three times the legal limit and a deplorable let-them-eat-cake attitude and mentality. This is a case that also makes me question the wisdom of exemptions for certain criminal behaviors based on age. If there was ever a case where someone needed to be tried as an adult this is it. Tragic, senseless and outrageous.

  56. This boy needs to be flown to El Salvador on an all expenses paid vacation. Upon arrival he needs to be given a case of beer and the keys to a rental car. A first time offense of DWI in El Salvador leads to execution by firing squad. No therapy and no defense of “Affluenza”.

  57. Here’s a question nobody seems to be asking:

    The psychologist that testified on his behalf, HOW MUCH DID HE BILL THE DEFENSE FOR HIS EXPERT TESTIMONY? Would this psychologist be willing to testify in court on behalf of some poor black kid that can’t afford to pay him? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

  58. Didn’t we learn anything from the OJ trial? This problem is not about race – it’s about HOW MUCH MONEY YOU HAVE. Rich black men can buy their freedom just like rich white folks can.

    This rich texas kid faces no consequences because his parents had the connections and money to keep him from being tried as an adult.

    We have not seen the last of this kid. He will screw up again and when he does……maybe it will be the catalist to wake up the masses and start the revolution that is inevitablly in America’s future as the rich 1% throw the rest of us into poverty……and their privately owned prisons.

    The black folks and the white folks are going to have to band together and look beyond race because it divides us and keeps us from gaining any power against the 1%. America is a very scary place to live in these times. The gap between rich and poor – especially in Houston, Texas is appauling.

  59. Not to play 1%er’s advocate here, but look at the facts. His parents are wealthy and so they can afford to pay for $450,000 of therapy. The state would not do very much for him. He would go to prison and his life would essentially be ruined. Then he’d get out at 36 having missed out on life, old enough to drink, and possibly still with a living allowance from his wealthy family. Sounds like the perfect recipe for a guy who just drinks and drives around all the time. Wasted life. The purpose of sentencing is to do what it best for public safety. Sometimes it is to teach people a lesson through loss of freedom. But the purpose is not revenge, (except in death penalty cases, as no other reason for execution seems to make much sense).

    On the other hand, he can save the state the money for housing him and go get therapy on his families dollar, continue on with a basically normal youthful path with threat of imprisonment hanging over his head if he does go awry and commit another crime as he’d be on probation for a decade. Sounds like a good recipe for a person to focus on things that won’t get him into trouble, like school and eventually a career.

    Being rich affords a person the ability to act more adult at a younger age than a poor person. He was driving, drinking, apparently having sex. He was still a 16 year old.

    Does it suck that a black teen of little means would get the ‘revenge’ treatment we all expect from court? Yes. So focus more on people getting thrown away because they have little money or social capital. In this case, the kid can afford to pay for his own rehabilitation and salvage his life. To prevent that from happening when it’s more effective than what the state would do with him isn’t as pragmatic. You might think it’s good revenge to have the guy become a loser, but will turning him into a loser somehow -lower- his threat to the public?

  60. I only hope next time when he gets drunk and decides to drive, he crashes into a tree or something and kills himself. Or even better, crashes into his own home, killing his parents and Judge Boyd, who will be enjoying a fine dinner with the family.

  61. Lee,

    That would be great in a perfect world, but these are lesser included offenses and he would have an appeal ripe because he has already been sentenced on the greater offense that occurred at the same time….. This is a smoke screen deflecting his error on the judge and very dysfunctional family…… I wish it could be different….

  62. True sociopaths aren’t made by circumstances, they are born. Unfortunately, treatment and even jail time won’t cure them. They lack empathy and a conscience (a moral compass) and, in my opinion, need lifelong monitoring in order to keep society safe from further bad acts.

  63. Young white males are the worst drivers and cause the most accidents. They’ll run into a tree with nobody there. Fact. Google it. So they say he killed these people becuase his family has money and lets him do whatever he wants with no punishment. And the law agreed and did the same thing. The same thing that caused the problem in the first place. Great law system you all got set up. Certain groups of people have no common sense. Been saying this for years and the same people keep proving me right. EVERYtime.

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  66. Well stated, Donald (post 12/17/2013). Wealth does not buy true class. It’s too bad the parents didn’t use their money to help raise the boy into a responsible young man with ambition and exciting goals. With no direction, a rich boy like Ethan Couch only has the superficial hope that money can buy: cars/trucks, women, houses, “toys”, alcohol, drugs etc. The appearance of success is there, but it’s only an illusion. He would likely become an even more destructive or sociopathic human being…or a very lonely sad one.

    Hopefully, the therapy/rehabilitation and eventual emancipation from his parents will allow him to learn and grow into a person with a decent future who does not reoffend. If Ethan Couch does end up taking the positive route, he’ll need to forgive himself for his youthful deadly stupidity, make “amends” best he can, and to acknowledge that his parents are not to be mirrored should he ever become a parent. Hopefully, Ethan Couch is, or will become, truly remorseful and will make amends.

    At 16, “the world is your oyster”, as the saying goes. Especially where money brings potential opportunities. With wealthy parents, Ethan Couch should be going to the best schools that encourage his talents…instead of killing four people, paralyzing and damaging many others (9?)! What a waste…an expensive throw-away kid. Let’s hope he can be “recycled” into somebody positive, worth more than his trust fund or inheritance; he’s young enough to potentially rehabilitate. *fingers crossed*

    MOST importantly, I hope all the survivors are doing better physically and emotionally. My heart goes out to the victims and their loved ones. It’s so unfair what happened to all of them and I can understand their shock, deep grief, anger, and disappointment in this case. It just takes ONE ignorant, irresponsible person to get behind the wheel and damage so many people’s lives. Like it’s been said in Spiderman (film & comic), “With great power comes great responsibility.” Sometimes “great” power is simply knowing when to stop drinking or to not drive at all.

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