Affluenza Teen Avoids Jail For Second Time, Sentenced to Rehab
He drove while drunk and killed four people, but Ethan Couch isn't going to jail. For a second time, a Texas judge ruled out jail time for the teen whose defense expert said he suffered from "affluenza," a supposed condition brought on by his parents' wealth and the lack of limits they imposed. Instead, on Wednesday, a judge ordered Couch to go to rehab. Of course, his parents will foot the bill.
The teen initially faced 20 years in jail when his case first went to trial in December, but Judge Jean Boyd decided 10 years probation would be more fitting. Prosecutors pushed for another 20-year sentence this second time around in relation to two additional victims who were severely injured in the June 2013 crash.
Couch was 16 years old at the time of the incident, during which seven passengers were in the car with him. His blood alcohol content was 0.24 — three times the legal limit. It gets worse: he had Valium in his system, and he was speeding when he hit and killed four pedestrians, and severely wounded two 15-year-olds. One suffered a brain injury and can no longer move or talk, and another suffered broken and internal injuries.
Wounds were reopened for the victims' families Wednesday. Many reiterated statements similar to sentiments they shared in December, saying it was all about the money. One mother whose daughter was killed said no amount of "money or prestige or status" would grant Couch and his family immunity for the crime.
"Had he not had money to have the defense there, to also have the experts testify and also offer to pay for the treatment, I think the results would have been different," Eric Broyles, who lost his daughter and wife, told MyFoxDFW.
The case garnered nationwide attention after Couch's first sentencing, raising questions and criticisms about the justice system. During his probation, Couch is banned from driving, using drugs or alcohol, and will remain at the rehabilitation facility for an undetermined period of time. He could face jail time if he violates any of the terms or leaves rehab.