Texas teen Ethan Couch gets 10 years probation for driving drunk, killing 4

Posted on: 7:49 pm, December 11, 2013, by

Drinking and driving

(CNN) — Victims’ families are angry and speaking out after a judge sentenced a teenager in Texas to 10 years’ probation for driving drunk and causing a crash that left two people severely injured and four others dead.

Ethan Couch, 16, was sentenced by a juvenile court judge on Tuesday. If he violates the terms of his probation, he could face up to 10 years behind bars, according to a statement from the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office.

Judge Jean Boyd told the court she would not release Couch to his parents, but would work to find the teen a long-term treatment facility.

The sentence disappointed prosecutors and shocked victims’ family members, who say they feel that Couch got off too easy.

Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter in the incident, had hoped for closure.

“Today could have been a good start at that. Unfortunately, the wounds that it opened only makes the healing process that much greater and more difficult,” CNN affiliate KTVT reported he said.

“We had over 180 years of life taken, future life not 180 years lived, but 180 years of future life taken and two of those were my wife and daughter.”

Hollie Boyles and her daughter, Shelby, left their home to help Breanna Mitchell, whose SUV had broken down. Brian Jennings was driving past and also stopped to help.

All four were killed when the teen’s pickup plowed into the pedestrians. Couch’s vehicle also struck a parked car, which then slid into another vehicle driving in the opposite direction.

Two people riding in the bed of the teen’s pickup were tossed in the crash and severely injured.

One is no longer able to move or talk because of a brain injury, while the other suffered internal injuries and broken bones.

Earlier on the night of June 15, 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, according to the district attorney’s office.

“We are disappointed by the punishment assessed but have no power under the law to change or overturn it. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and we regret that this outcome has added to the pain and suffering they have endured,” said Assistant District Attorney Richard Alpert.

Lawyers for Couch reportedly 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.

According to CNN affiliate WFAA, a psychologist called by the defense described Couch as a product of “affluenza.” He reportedly testified 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.

“There is nothing the judge could have done to lessen the suffering for any of those families,” said defense attorney Scott Brown, KTVT reported.

“(The judge) fashioned a sentence that is going to keep Ethan under the thumb of the justice system for the next 10 years,” he said. “And if Ethan doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do, if he has one misstep at all, then this judge, or an adult judge when he’s transferred, can then incarcerate him.”

By Dana Ford with contribution from CNN’s Vivian Kuo.

54 comments

  • terrible decision by the judge; hopefully this kid knows just how lucky he is and can do something worthwhile with his life.

  • Alicia Perry says:

    What an injustice. That family will never be able to celebrate the holidays or anything because of this sick piece of trash and all he gets is ten years?!!!???? Get that judge off the bench and disbar him. He should have gotten life in prison. What is wrong with the justice system? Other people get life sentences for much less severe crimes than this and all he gets is 10 years?

  • Geoffrey Zeger says:

    Incredible – a mockery of justice. If it wasn’t someone whose parents had deep pockets they would have gotten the full bid! The DA should appeal. The Judge should be reviewed for this decision.

  • Very disappointing sentence. How about the punishment fitting the crime? Look at the lives this person ended or destroyed.

  • Scott Pate says:

    Really Ronnie? Trying to make this into a race thing? Would you say justice was served if this kid were any other color? If he was black and walked with probation would you say that was okay?

  • rick charlson says:

    The land is polluted with unjust judges. Some other 16 year old in possession of marijuana would not have gotten off so lightly.

  • It seems that if we can appeal a judgement or verdict, that may be considered wrong, we should be able to appeal a sentence that might be inappropriate.
    No sentence should be given solely to appease the victims, but to punish and correct, if possible, the criminal. This sentence does neither.

  • gino king says:

    Since the fool was used to getting his way, he got a lighter sentence and doesn’t have to spend 1 day in jail? What kind of horrible logic was the judge using? Maybe the judge should go to jail too.

  • nancy says:

    Parents pay attention what your deep pockets create
    Murderers…MADD.

  • Ron López says:

    It is self evident the kid’s sentence is unjust unless evidence of similar treatment for others who have committed serious crimes exists. Apparently money defines everything. Sad to see principles in the old code of Hammurabi persist. Justice is defined by one’s class.

  • the guy on the couch says:

    All the wonderful things that $Money$ can buy! Crazy thing is that i bet no one will do anything about it. Even if they try, parents will just buy out the next person on the list.. this world is so sad and lost.

  • travis says:

    I really can’t believe all you hateful folks want to see this kid burn. If he were 40, sure a 40 does know better. But come on, when every last one of you were 16, you were dumber than a box of rocks, just like most 16 year olds. Is it a tragedy; yes, is the loss great beyond measure, most certainly. But a kid, doesn’t deserve the same punishment as an adult, eespecially when the act was not premeditated, unintended and a mistake.

  • Lacey says:

    This breaks my heart for all involved. The families of the victims because they will have no justice and the young man who chose to drive drunk because he will not truly be held accountable for his actions.

  • TJ says:

    I pray for the family and there loss… He should have gotten so much more then probation 16 or not black or white he killed four people because he was drinking he should be punished for that 10 years probation am probably a a week in that rehab place isn’t going to teach him any thing only that if an when he decides to drink again he will get off again so sad.. Krama will come back an get him one day I can say that from experienceing the same thing from the people who let my brother die from drinking an driving.. So sad God be with the family at there time of needed

  • Kemery says:

    The DA may not have the power to overturn the sentence themselves but they do have the power to appeal or to ask a higher court to review the case. I understand that at 16 good judgement is rarely used, especially when under the influence, but this kid deserves a more severe punishment than time away at a posh treament facility!

  • Ash says:

    In a juvenile setting they are all about rehabilition, but I do believe this should have been a harsher sentace. It is not all about race, or SES, it is about the actions. There were so many lives takens and this teen needs to understand, but I do believe he made a huge mistakens. I do some of us have probably made a big mistake. By the article, it seems he was headed down the wrong path anyways, and I do believe there should be jail time, prohabation, counseling, and apologoy (which can never replace the thier lives), AA, and rehabiliton.

  • Wow he is going to be on paper for 10 yrs he mess up one time he will be in jail n he will have to live the rest of his life knowing he killed 4 people n every time he goes to sleep he will see the wreck over n over again they need to take it all off shelf beer n all the 16 teen yr old boy knew not to get behind a wheel when drinking n his m n dad should of took keys away after 9pm n not let him be out until he wanted to come home my kids r in by 7pm cuz of crazy ppl I just don’t know about this world any more my prayers goes out to the family that loss their love ones n for the teen that he learn his lesson the hard way n give up your keys n drinking

  • I don’t understand why every one think it is about being white or Blake or rich or poor it isn’t who know the judge might have a 16 teen yr old n know how teen are n giving him a 2nd chance I’m not say that I would because what he did was wrong but when he close his eyes he will have flash back he knew what he was doing when he started drinking n got in his truck he need to give up driving karma don’t play nice I’m going to pray for all of them he need to pray to n ask for a lot of forgiveness n start going to church

  • Ragg says:

    I am waiting for the next article, where we find out how much money Crouch’s family donated to the judge’s re-election campaign.

  • I am sorry but if this young man decided to drink and drive he is old enough to pay the price for killing, yes, killing 4 people!! Once again money wins!!!And people wonder why the average citizen is getting bitter? Things need to change before something drastic occurs.

  • Stacey says:

    This is straight BS!!! My brother in law was sentenced to 5 years for some pot! This kid kills people and gets probation? What is wrong with this world!!!!

  • robert says:

    I wanna know what about the victims family…if any one of u have had someone so close to ur heart by someone else…you know the pain,he traauma, the depression, the funeral expences, having to barake the news to ther kids,cousins,mothers,fathers etc. That they are not comming back…i mean seriously..the judge considered the kids future…but what about the justice and the victims families future?

  • Solomon says:

    When the righteous become many the people rejoice: but when anyone wicked bears rule, the people sigh.

  • John Kline says:

    send the judge email let her know what you think of her.

    jboyd@tarrantcounty.com

  • John Kline says:

    pass this around. One voice

    Family District Judge, 323rd Judicial District: 4 Year Term Expires 2014
    Jean Boyd (Republican)
    Scott D. Moore Juvenile Justice Center
    2701 Kimbo Road
    Fort Worth, Texas 76111
    817-838-4600 Fax: 817-759-7899
    Email: jboyd@tarrantcounty.com

  • Crystal says:

    What if that was your 16year old son that everyone is talking about??? He should be locked up for some time but not for the rest of his life. He has a chance to change his life around and hope he does. I feel for the family that lost their loved ones

  • Crystal says:

    Who you calling an idiot?

  • toni says:

    the poor little rich boy, should do the time, we would all have to do.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I cannot even believe this is real. What a horrible example to set for other teenagers, now they will think it is ok to drink and drive. Their defense will be if this kid got away with it so should we, whoever heard of Affluenza?, let alone as a defense for killing 4 people and injuring 2 others while drunk. It means according to the news that he is so spoiled and taught that money can buy him out of any problem, so the judge went along with that as his defense and let him off instead of giving him justice. The poster who said he has to go to sleep every nite and see the wreck again in his head was probably not realizing that when you are as drunk as he was you don’t remember anything, and to the poster who wrote the families of the victims should sue those parents for everything they are worth has the right idea, let’s see them buy themselves or their kids out of anything with no money. This kid got off way to easy and I am not trying to be mean but what he did was commit murder 4 times over and as I see it is walking away scott free, oh and I could care less what color his skin is.

  • Black-Man-Here says:

    I have a brother that has been locked up since he was 17.My older brother got life in prison.So to see this happen to the 16 yr. old this makes me hate the judicial system because it seems to me that its MONEY OVER EVERYTHING….My brothers crime was similar to his but only one life was taken…smh

  • DUI Lawyer says:

    The psychologist’s diagnosis seems highly unusual. Very sad story.

  • Hans Marco says:

    Don’t leave it up to God! The lawyer said the parents are at fault! The victims’ families, even those who weren’t killed, need to band together and drop a lawsuit on the parents for as much as possible. If no one settles they could probably ruin the family just like that stupid boy ruined theirs.

  • J Hoeppner says:

    ““There is nothing the judge could have done to lessen the suffering for any of those families,” said defense attorney Scott Brown, KTVT reported.” Are you kidding me? Are you really so arrogant that you actually believe that?!?

    While it may not be right, and goes against the concept of forgiveness, it is HUMAN to take a little satisfaction in knowing that a fitting consequence was handed down and for me it WOULD lessen the suffering just a tiny bit. Knowing that your loved ones lives’ were valued and deemed worthy of a proper punishment for the little brat would sure as hell make me feel a bit better. This kid only has to “suffer” for ten years. The families of those he killed will suffer for the rest of their lives. Judge Boyd and the defense attorney castigate the parents for not teaching this kid values and instilling a sense of responsibility as he was growing up, and then she goes and does the exact same thing by letting him walk. I don’t care if he ‘meant’ to do it or not–he got in a vehicle after committing a crime and he killed four people. He should BE. IN. JAIL.

  • patty says:

    OK, It’s the justice SYSTEM that is screwed. I believe the kid needs to go to prison for life. However, if he got a 20 year sentence, he could be out in 2 years (don’t understand how all that works) At least,this way, with the 10 years probation, he will eventually mess up again and then, hopefully will get the prison time he deservs. The kids “rehab and therapy” should not be a priority. I could care less aboug the kid. Again, the justice system, especially for juveniles is what is screwed. JUST TRYING TO BE LOGICAL.

  • meigon says:

    Marie you are a very ignorant person, its not about race or playing the race card or people being obsessed with race,Its about if you going to punish one child lightly for a harsh crime then you need to do the same for every child. Punish them the same way, that ignorant judge sentenced a fourteen yr old black boy to life, and he didn’t even kill any- body what makes there child any better then mines. All i am saying is be fair, and then I can respect the rules. Oh if it was my child I would want liency so I understand both sides but if it was my family murdered by a immature kids crazy mistake I would want blood but at the end of the day if my child did get punished I would want the same all the way around the board. Be Fair America Be Fair God is not a favorer of man and neither am I. Lord help us our mines are so poisoned!!!!!!!!!!

  • k k says:

    ETHAN COUCH DESERVES TO DI THE MOST CRUELEST WAY

  • Min says:

    Absolutely disgusting. I hope each and every family member of the victims sue for 100 million a piece. Hurt rich people where it hurts, their wallets. I hope they destroy the company his father has. I also hope everyone with a heart decides to boycott this families construction conpany as well.

    • crazcat says:

      LOVE YOUR COMMENT AND TOTALLY AGREE. I THINK EVERYONE THAT HAS A LOVED ONE IN PRSION FOR LESS OFFENSE SHOULD BE SUING AND F ING GOD I JUST CANT SAY WHAT IS ON MY MIND RIGHT NOW. OR ALL AMERICANS SHOULD BE SUING ALOT MORE OF OUR GOVT THAN JUST THIS F ED JUDGE. TO MUCH LIENG AND WORSE GOING ON THESE DAYS!

  • Kim says:

    Been that way for years if you have money.

  • e21932 says:

    I do remember being 15. I went to school, played football and had a newspaper route. When I screwed up I got whooped.

  • amilne says:

    Are you kidding me? At 16 I was at home doing my homework or at a friends house. NOT getting drunk and certainly NOT driving. I just wonder why the prosecutor even allowed him to plead guilty. Why wouldn’t you file charges and try Couch as an adult then the sentence would have been an adult sentence. This guy is a waste of space and does not need to be sent to rehab, he just needs to be gone. He needs to be sent to jail 20 years for each life he took. I really don’t care that he is 16! And a helpful hint each and everyone injured and the family of the ones murdered need to file a civil suit and wipe out the Couch family’s finances. Seems like the only thing they know is money, then it needs to be taken away.

  • Ragg says:

    I bet your comment would be different, if he was a poor black kid from the ghetto.

  • Andy says:

    There is in no way you can justify killing four people while drunk driving!! I’m close to his age and I would NEVER do something as stupid and ridiculous as that. He got off incredibly easy, probation? If I were in his shoes it is a fact that I would get life in prison, being my skin is black and my pockets are empty.

  • robert says:

    Are u serious? What about the victims families? Having to explain to ther lobed ones what happendd. Not seeing them anymore. Have u ever lost a loved one at the hands of someone else? Put urself in their shoes..yeah he kid will get bashed on and shit..but hey probation will probably mean going to school comming home doing homework and play his little fame counsel cuz he cant step foot outside…i mean ho wudnt want tht sentence but seriously..for one minute consider the victims family..this is a slap to

  • John Smith says:

    I am willing to bet that if your family were killed by a 16 year old that your opinion on this topic would change.

  • jay says:

    Your an idiot…… You sympathize because you are a screw up too. You need to go jail with him. Your trash just like him..

  • robert says:

    Oh yeah sure…no one is looking for revenge..jst justice…revenge would be an eye for an eye…. life for a life…besides if he does go the wrong path his parents can buy him a new one.

  • Debra Doug says:

    You are absolutely right Andy. There is justice and there’s just us. Please do everything you can to walk the straight and narrow. Get an education and stay out of trouble. The boy not only killed 4 people, he stole. He deserves to be punished. You would probably get 10 years just for stealing. I wish you the best and I appreciate that you recognize what’s really going on!!

  • Marie says:

    Believe it or not this isn’t about race. But let me guess. Your black. You people are obsessed with race. I see you guys getting away with everything lately. Just shut up. If the kid was black he probably wouldn’t have even gotten probabtion. He’d be completely free.

  • John Kline says:

    Anyone play the race card is racist themselves so shut your f`ing mouth

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