"Affluenza" Defense Investigated By Attorney General, DA Hoping For New Charges For Ethan Couch
Looks like the justice system isn't done with Ethan Couch, the 16-year-old struck down by "affluenza:" District Attorney Joe Shannon has asked a juvenile judge to sentence the teen to jail time for two additional charges of intoxication assault. The charges stem from the crash Couch caused in June, after the teen drunk-drove and caused a car crash that left four dead and ten injured.
Last week, Couch was sentenced to ten years' probation and zero jail time after psychologist Dr. G. Dick Miller argued that the crash was a product of his wealthy upbringing, and, having never been "reprimanded for his actions," Couch could not take responsibility for them now. The verdict prompted outrage across the country, and the office of Texas' attorney general, Greg Abbott, is now looking into the case. Abbott himself called the sentence "just outrageous."
District Attorney Joe Shannon had released an angry statement protesting the verdict after it was announced. Now, he's asked a juvenile judge to put Couch behind bars for additional charges: "The 16-year-old admitted his guilt in four cases of intoxication manslaughter and two cases of intoxication assault. There has been no verdict formally entered. Every case deserves a verdict."
Before the first sentence was handed down, prosecution had sought the maximum sentence for Couch's charges: 20 years in prison. Instead, Couch will receive extensive counseling and one-on-one therapy at a private home in California that Anderson Cooper described as a "spa."
When Couch caused the crash, he and his friends had just stolen cases of beer from Wal-Mart and were planning to get more. He was driving 70 mph in a 40 mph zone, with a blood alcohol level of .24. That's three times the legal adult limit — never mind that Couch was underage — and toxicology reports indicated that Couch had also taken Valium.
He hit and killed 24-year-old Brianna Mitchell, whose car had broken down, as well as youth pastor Bryan Jennings, 43, and Shelby Boyles, 21. Boyles' mother, Hollie, 52, who had stopped to help Mitchell, was also killed.
In court, Couch had nothing to say to the surviving family members, although they each addressed him in turn. "Nowhere in this process did Ethan ever say to the families, to the court, 'I'm so sorry for what happened,'" Eric Boyles, husband to Hollie and father to Shelby, said. "Nowhere did Ethan express any remorse or anything."
The victims' families are planning to sue Couchs' parents.
"At some point there should be some level of accountability for their actions," Boyles said. "I'm not sure how our justice system has gotten to this."