They tried to make him go to jail, but instead he will be going to rehab.
Judge Jean Boyd decided—again—that “affluenza”-afflicted teen Ethan Couch will not serve jail time for the drunken car wreck that killed four people and injured several more. Instead, he will go to a rehabilitation facility, courtesy of his parents.
During Wednesday’s hearing, which was closed to the public, prosecutors urged the judge to stick Couch with 20 years in state prison. Instead, Couch will serve 10 years of probation and undergo drug and alcohol counseling. His parents had previously cited a $450,000-a-year rehab center near Newport Beach, Calif. as their son’s future home, but nothing has been confirmed. Couch could face jail time if he tried to run away or otherwise violated his parole.
At 16 years old, Couch’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit for an adult when he lost control of the car he was driving and hit a group of people who had broken down on the side of the road.
Two of Couch’s passengers that night remain severely injured — Sergio Molina, who is paralyzed, and Solimon Mohmand, who suffered many serious injuries and broken bones. Several of the victims’ relatives were at the hearing Wednesday.
Member of the public have angrily called for Judge Boyd’s resignation for her lenient sentencing of the rich kid who has become a poster child for overprivilege.
Defense attorney Reagan Wynn said the media fixated unduly on the defense expert’s now-infamous “affluenza” comment and “so twisted the facts that were actually presented in court that I don't think the truth will ever be able to come out now."
"It was ridiculous to think that we walked into court and said, 'Oh, this is a rich white kid,' and she decided to probate him," he said.
But prosecutor Richard Alpert said the expert’s statement was “a stupid thing to say” and a poorly judged move on the part of the defense team. He hopes that Texas will reconsider its sentencing guidelines to allow teens to be sentenced as adults in certain cases. Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has already asked for a study of sentencing guidelines in intoxication manslaughter cases.
But for Couch, the future holds an indeterminate amount of rehab. And after that?
"No matter where he goes, no matter what game he or his family think they've beaten, the world is never going to take their eyes off of him," said Marla Mitchell, the mother of one of the young women killed in the crash.