Ethan Couch, the 16-year-old whose "affluenza" defense got him the amazingly light sentence of just 10 years probation for killing four people in a drunk driving accident, may go to jail yet.
The accident also severely injured two people. One is paralyzed and, five months after the crash, can only communicate by blinking his eyes. Couch, whose blood alcohol level was 0.24 (three times the legal limit for an adult of legal drinking age, which Couch is not), has been charged with their injuries as well, and prosecutors in that case will ask that he be given prison time, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports:
'During his recent trial, the 16-year-old admitted his guilt in four cases of intoxication manslaughter and two cases of intoxication assault,' [Tarrant County District Attorney Joe] Shannon said in an email to the Star-Telegram. 'There has been no verdict formally entered in the two intoxication assault cases. Every case deserves a verdict.'
'The district attorney’s office is asking the court to incarcerate the teen on the two intoxication assault cases.'
The maximum sentence Couch could receive in those cases is three years in jail, far less than the 20 years prosecutors had asked him to serve for the four deaths.
Couch's lawyers argued that their client's parents' wealth meant they never had to instill any sense of morals or responsibility in him. A psychologist testifying for the defense referred to this as "affluenza." Prosecutors were asking for 20 years for the teen, who plead guilty to four counts of intoxication manslaughter. The judge went with 10 years. Of probation. And some time in a $450,000-a-year treatment center, paid for by Couch's parents.
It remains to be seen if they'll be able to afford it now. On Monday, Dallas-Fort Worth's NBC 5 reported that five civil suits were filed against Couch's parents (and the company Couch's father owns, which owned the truck he was driving in the crash) by the families of the victims. The family of Sergio Molina, who was left almost completely paralyzed after he was thrown from the bed of Couch's pick-up truck, is suing for $20 million.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.