A 16-year-old who went on a drunken night of debauchery that ended with four innocent bystanders dead and two of his friends seriously injured got probation for his crimes. A judge decided that because the boy was rich, he didn’t know he would get in trouble.
Ethan Couch admitted to all of his crimes. He and seven of his friends stole alcohol from a Walmart, got wasted and piled into Couch’s pick-up truck. After speeding along at 70 miles an hour in a 40 mph speed limit zone, he struck and killed four pedestrians who were standing by their cars on the side of the road. Two of his friends, who were riding in the bed of his truck, were thrown from the vehicle and critically injured. One remains in the hospital with severe brain damage. Nine other bystanders were also injured. At the time of the wreck, Couch’s blood alcohol level was four times the legal limit.
How a person goes from all that damage and winds up with 10 years of probation is an odd story.
Prosecutors were hoping to send Couch to jail for up to 20 years, but the defense made the case for why Couch should be let go with just an ankle bracelet and a court order to go to rehab for a while. Their main line of argument was that Couch was actually a victim too. His parents enjoyed a life of wealth and privilege and due to that never bothered to teach Couch that actions had consequences, an expert brought in to defend Couch dubbed the condition “affluenza.”