Ethan Couch, the drunken driving ‘affluenza’ teen, missing from probation
FORT WORTH, TX — To the families of his victims, Texas teen Ethan Couch got off easy with 10 years’ probation after killing four people while driving drunk. Now his probation officer can’t find him, Couch’s attorneys said.
“The juvenile probation officer has been unable to make contact with Ethan or his mother with whom he has been residing,” attorneys Scott Brown and William Reagan Wynn said this week.
Part of Couch’s defense two years ago was that he was the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for the boy. A psychologist said in court that Couch, who was 16 at the time, suffered from “affluenza.”
The term triggered widespread outrage.
Couch’s attorneys argued back then that his parents, because they spoiled him, were partly to blame for the crash on a road in Burleson, south of Fort Worth.
Prosecutors had asked for 20 years behind bars, but in December 2013, a Tarrant County juvenile court judge sentenced Couch to 10 years’ probation. Couch was ordered into long-term mental health treatment away from his parents’ influence.
After his recent disappearance, a court ordered Couch arrested. At the time of his conviction, prosecutors said Couch could face up to 10 years of incarceration if he violated the terms of his probation.
Recently, a video turned up on social media that allegedly showed Couch at a party where alcohol was served, CNN affiliate KTVT reported.
On the night of June 15, 2013, Couch and some friends stole beer from a Walmart.
And Hollie Boyles, and her daughter, Shelby, left their home to help Breanna Mitchell, whose SUV had broken down by the side of a road. Brian Jennings, a youth pastor, was driving past and also stopped to help.
Couch plowed into them, killing them all. The crash sent two passengers riding in the bed of Couch’s truck airborne, injuring both severely.
The parents of one of the teens, who suffered debilitating brain injuries, sued Couch’s family for $2 million.
Three hours after the crash, tests showed that Couch had a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit. Couch’s vehicle also struck a parked car, which then slid into another vehicle headed in the opposite direction.
Eric Boyles, who lost his wife Hollie and daughter Shelby, felt the judge — with the probation sentence — had doled out no consequences to Couch for his actions.
“The primary message has to absolutely be that money and privilege can’t buy justice in this country,” he said then. He felt Couch’s sentence sent the opposite message.