Texas Judge Again Rules Jail Time Isn’t Remedy for “Affluenza”

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 5 2014 8:59 PM

Texas Judge Again Rules Jail Time Isn’t Remedy for “Affluenza”

Ethan Couch, 16, avoided prison time after his lawyers offered the "affluenza" defense.
Ethan Couch, 16, avoided prison time after his lawyers offered the "affluenza" defense.

Screenshot from ABC affiliate WFAA

Texas teenager Ethan Couch was back in court on Wednesday for his role behind the wheel of the drunk-driving crash that killed four people last year. The case set off a firestorm of criticism during the trial when, Couch, the child of a wealthy family, was described as having a case of “affluenza” as a justification for his actions. The 16-year-old avoided jail time and was sentenced to 10 years’ probation and ordered to go to rehab.

On Wednesday, prosecutors asked the court, the Associated Press reports, to sentence Couch to “20 years in state custody on charges related to two people who were severely injured.” Judge Jean Boyd, however, again declined to send the teenager to jail. According to the AP, “asking Boyd to give Couch jail time for intoxication assault was a last-ditch effort by prosecutors, who have said they have almost no way to appeal the judge's sentence in the case.”

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Slate’s Josh Voorhees covered the case, and the uproar, last month, here’s more on the crash:

According to police, Couch was going 70 miles-per-hour in his father's Ford F-350 pickup in a 40 mph zone when he lost control and started a deadly chain of collisions that claimed the lives of: 24-year-old Breanna Mitchell, whose car had broken down on the side of the road; Hollie Boyles and her 21-year-old daughter Shelby, who lived nearby and had come outside to help Mitchell; and Brian Jennings, a youth pastor who was also playing the role of good samaritan. Two of the seven passengers riding in Couch's truck were also seriously injured.
Earlier in the night, police say that several of the passengers were caught on camera stealing two cases of beer from a local Walmart. At the time of the crash, Couch had a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit for an adult, and also had traces of Valium in his system, according to police.

 

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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