Teen Sentenced To Probation For Deadly DWI Crash
A 16-year-old avoided spending time in prison for killing four people
in a car accident in June after the judge bought his lawyers' argument
that he was the victim of wealth.
that Ethan Couch was sentenced to 10 years probation for the drunk
driving crash that ended the lives of youth pastor, Brian Jennings;
Hollie and Shelby Boyles; and Breanna Mitchell.
Prosecutors asked that Couch serve 20 years in prison. His blood
alcohol level was .24, three times the legal limit for an adult.
Psychologist G. Dick Miller testified for the defense that Couch
suffered from "affluenza," a condition in which "his family felt that
wealth bought privilege and there was no rational link between behavior
and consequences," KHOU reported.
Miller said Couch's parents never punished him for his behavior, even
when, in a separate incident, cops found him passed out in a car with a
naked 14-year-old girl.
As part of his sentence, Couch will be sent to a private counseling
center that costs $450,000, which will be paid for by his father.
Money and privilege has helped defendants avoid serious prison time for violent crimes before.
In a particularly clear example, cited by journalist Glenn Greenwald, hedge fund manager Martin Joel Erzinger served just 90 days in jail after driving the car that seriously injured a bicyclist and fled the scene of the accident in 2010.
The district attorney in the case charged Erzlinger with two
misdemeanors instead of a felony, noting that "felony convictions have
some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's