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Judge orders no jail for Ethan Couch, teen in fatal car wreck



By NOMAAN MERCHANT

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - A judge on Wednesday ordered a Texas teenager who was sentenced to 10 years' probation in a drunken-driving crash that killed four people to go to a rehabilitation facility paid for by his parents.

Judge Jean Boyd again decided to give no jail time for Ethan Couch, defense attorney Reagan Wynn and prosecutors told reporters after the hearing, which was closed to the public. Prosecutors had asked Boyd to sentence him to 20 years in state custody on charges related to two people who were severely injured.

The sentence stirred fierce debate, as has the testimony of a defense expert who says Couch's wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility. The expert termed the condition "affluenza."

Wynn and prosecutor Richard Alpert would not identify the facility where Couch will go or where it is located. The teen's family previously had offered to pay for Couch to go to a $450,000-a-year rehabilitation center near Newport Beach, Calif.

Couch, who's currently in state custody, is expected to receive alcohol and drug rehab, and could face prison time if he runs away from the facility or violates any other terms of his probation, Alpert said.

There is no minimum amount of time Couch must spend in the facility before his release, prosecutor Riley Shaw said.

Wynn ripped the media and the public's focus on "affluenza" and said that his client was misunderstood.

He said reporting of the Couch case had "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 Alpert accused Wynn of hypocrisy, pointing out that a defense witness made the comment in the first place.

"His witnesses don't say things by accident," Alpert said. "So they thought maybe that would help - that's my interpretation - and it blew up on them. It was a stupid thing to say."

Couch's parents did not speak to reporters as they entered the courtroom. Several relatives of Couch's victims also attended Wednesday's hearing.

"The families feel like the same way they felt the last time they were here," Alpert said.

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.

Alpert said he hoped the Couch case would lead the Texas Legislature to allow juries to sentence some juvenile defendants. The case has already spurred calls for potential changes. Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who serves as president of the Senate, has asked for a study of sentencing guidelines in intoxication manslaughter cases.

But Wynn lauded Boyd for giving Couch probation and recognizing the possibility that he could be reformed better in a rehab facility that in prison.

"We recognize that 16-year-old kids are different from 25-year-old adults," he said.

Couch was 16 at the time of the accident. His blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit for an adult and there were traces of Valium in his system when he lost control of his pickup truck and plowed into a group of people helping a woman whose car had stalled.

Seven passengers were riding in Couch's truck. One, Sergio Molina, is paralyzed and can communicate only by blinking. The other, Solimon Mohmand, suffered numerous broken bones and internal injuries.

Teen Who Killed 4 In Crash Given No Jail Time

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jigokurei February 08 2014 at 1:03 AM

Why should this be any different than when celebrities rarely serve any meaningful time in jail? The problem with Affluenza is often their, or their family's, ability to buy off the system.

Here's a strange twist; a youth of a miserably poor family steals and drives a car, and crashes it; killing a few people. Should this youth has to serve time in jail for his/her crime? Could a lawyer argue that the youth's poor upbringing kept him or her from knowing right from wrong; a product of his or her environment? If not, how them is wealth more a privilege to justifying no jail time over a poor youth having to serve 15 years behind bars for a similar accident/crime?

It seems that Justin Bieber, and countless celebrities, are also affected by Affluenza...is this what really keeps them out of jail...remember Spears, Lohan, and Paris? Paris was sentenced to jail, but she had a breakdown on the first night, and then was released hours later...was her release harsh punishment enough? And was her release due to Affluenza? It seems so.

However, if it is a person of color; despite wealth, I doubt a court would say it is a case of Affluenza. And I am absolutely certain no jail would release a person of color; no matter what kind of breakdown that person may have.

I would have to say that this too goes for any normal, average person of any color...wealth seems to have a positive affect on the court system; something the average person or person of color rarely benefit from in the court system or while in jail.

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MASTER February 07 2014 at 7:56 PM

The judges' order proves the existence of "Affluenza".
Not even a minimum amount of time was set for his stay in a rehab center.
The kid still is not being held responsible for his actions.

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Rick February 07 2014 at 7:03 PM

There it is folks.......
Solid Proof, nepotism and favoritism at its best.
Depending on where you are at the social chain or should I say echelon, depends on what your punishment will be.

You do not live in an equal society.

If Adam Lanza would have lived, it makes me wonder what kind of a punishment he would have received?
If any at all.......

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OSHP367 February 07 2014 at 5:49 PM

The kid will suffer for the rest of his life because he knows he never paid for his crimes. Better to give him some time in jail, then intensive treatment and counseling, and finally a long period of probation. It would have been better for him to let him work his way through this. To just tell him he needs counseling....this is how sociopaths are formed.

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dowdrmd February 07 2014 at 5:43 PM

Any body know where he got Alcohol from?

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jigokurei February 08 2014 at 1:20 AM

Daddy's private bar.

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mndymrtn February 07 2014 at 5:19 PM

I normally do not post comments but this is very upsetting. Just because this child has rich parents he gets away with murder. If it would have been a child of a poor person that child would have spent most all if not all of the rest of his/her life in prison. This is a disgrace to the families of the murdered people. I do not feel people should rush to sue people and no amount of money can ever replace a lost loved one but I hope the families sue this child's parents for every penny they have and then let these parents try to find a way to pay for his comfy stay at the rehab. The families need to be paid before the rehab is paid then maybe the kid will have to go to prison instead since mommy and daddy will be poor. RIP to those who lost their lives and my heart goes out to the families of the lost loved ones.

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HAMMER February 07 2014 at 5:09 PM

looks like a crooked judge got payed off, thats our great justice system.

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janiesrazz February 07 2014 at 2:29 PM

He killed 4 people and no jail time! The same kind of justice that Kennedy cousin got after he confessed to killing a 15 year old child. If you are rich you can kill anybody so long at thier not rich and buy your way to freedaom for the right price!

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wllharrington February 07 2014 at 4:07 PM

I feel that you should have said he MURDERED 4 people , otherwise I totally agree.

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txgun357 February 07 2014 at 2:09 PM

If it were a black youith , white youth or hispanic youth and the had no money Judge Jean Boyd would not have hesitated in sending them to prison.

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Ronnie February 07 2014 at 2:45 PM

You know it always does not have to be a racial issue all the time. whether a rich-WHITE, BLACK HISPANIC OR ANY OTHER RACE...It is the justice system excepting bribes... I feel no matter who or what you are if you do a crime, then do the time.... He should be sent to a regular prison and get treated like anyone else who has to do the same time for a crime he committed.... The Parents are only worried about their name and high class status... Let them pay the money to all the injured parties involved. Then let their son learn a lesson to live with the person who is parallelized to help with (his or her) everyday needs.... This racial thing is way out of control....It could have been another race then what would be said?

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gerryannashworth February 07 2014 at 2:06 PM

I am disgusted with how this kid was dealt with in court!! I hope the families of all those killed by this kid sue the parents for every penny they have!! What a disgrace!! He will not learn anything from going to some cushy rehab, he needs to be in jail for killing those 4 people!

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