Tuesday, December 17, 2013
There are many reasons to feel disgust over a judge in a juvenile court in Fort Worth, Texas, sentencing 16-year-old Ethan Couch to 10 years of probation for killing four pedestrians and paralyzing his friend while driving drunk this summer.
Leading up to the tragedy that killed Breanna Mitchell (aged 24), Hollie Boyles (42) and Shelby Boyles (21) and Brian Jennings (43), Couch and a group of friends stole alcohol from a Walmart nearby. At the time of the crash, he was driving a pickup owned by Cleburne Sheet Metal, his father's company. Couch had seven passengers in his truck and a blood-alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit in Texas. He also had valium in his system. Two of his passengers were severely injured, including Sergio Molina, who suffered brain damage that has left him with blinking as his only form of communication.
The prosecutors had asked for Couch to receive 20 years in prison. Instead and as a result of the defense's argument, Judge Jean Boyd ordered Couch to a long-term, in-patient facility for therapy, no contact with his parents, and 10-years probation. His attorneys have stated that his parents have offered to pay for him to do his in-patient therapy at a center in Southern California that costs $450,000 a year. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Judge Boyd said that "she is familiar with programs available in the Texas juvenile justice system and is aware that he might not get the kind of intensive therapy in a state-run program that he could receive at the California facility suggested by his attorneys. Boyd said she had sentenced other teens to state programs but they never actually got into those programs."
Ethan Couch, therefore, will spend no time behind bars for killing four people and paralyzing another despite admitting guilt and despite the fact that the diagnosis the defense centered their case around – that of "affluenza" – is not even recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as an actual mental illness. On top of it, it appears that the judge found therapy and probation to be valid because his parents could pay for an expensive center and that he would not have to rely on the state programs. In summary, Couch got off because he comes from a wealthy family.
Jessica Luther theguardian.com