There 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.
The 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.”
Now 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: