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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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Buckingham's February 06 2014 at 12:03 PM

Hey great. He doesn't have to take responsibility for killing FOUR HUMAN BEINGS who trusted him WITH THEIR LIVES. He can go on living a full life while they will NEVER get to do so, ever again. How fair is that?

Flag Reply +11 rate up
1 reply
Diane Buckingham's February 06 2014 at 12:19 PM

Exactly what happened in Benghazi and with Hillary! People in office set examples for the youth of today!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
sueitchy February 06 2014 at 12:04 PM

Then send the frickin useless parents to jail. Is no one accountable for this? I wish we could send the lenient poor excuse for a judge to jail.

Flag Reply +15 rate up
3 replies
mike711l February 06 2014 at 12:04 PM

And the rich get away with murder yet again.

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1 reply
junior mike711l February 06 2014 at 12:05 PM

Won't be rich after the families get done suing.

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1 reply
samsrm junior February 06 2014 at 12:16 PM

Sure they will after they finish paying off the defense att. like they did the judge it will be thrown out of court the first day, then the victims family will go to jail for shooting that little bastard outside the courthouse.

Flag +1 rate up
mike711l February 06 2014 at 12:05 PM

I hope the parents go bankrupt fighting lawsuit after lawsuit.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
SHARON February 06 2014 at 12:05 PM

Absolute disgrace!!!!!

Flag Reply +13 rate up
bleinmom February 06 2014 at 12:05 PM

How pathetic is our Justice system ! If he’d been poor or from a middle-class family, he’d be in jail. No one forced him to drink and them drive. Lives were lost ! Poor parenting should not be a defense.

Flag Reply +17 rate up
1 reply
Diane bleinmom February 06 2014 at 12:14 PM

Remember, the present administration sets an example: Do anything, pretend you don't know and suffer NO consequences! That is the message of this administration, loud and clear!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
annedyth Diane February 06 2014 at 11:12 PM

I've seen stuff like this since before the JFK presidency...Rich folks getting away with stuff.

Flag 0 rate up
smith52e February 06 2014 at 12:06 PM

doesn't get any sicker than this

Flag Reply +14 rate up
1 reply
annedyth smith52e February 06 2014 at 11:13 PM

It can. I will not go into details , but I can think of lots of sad things. Read lots of history....

Flag Reply 0 rate up
joper201 February 06 2014 at 12:07 PM

I hope the young mans parents are sued into bankruptcy!!!!!

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1 reply
bigred8690 joper201 February 06 2014 at 12:11 PM

Not likely. They are not just merely affluent. The dad makes a LOT of money because he owns his own sheet metal company. You probably don't buy sheet metal in any quantity so you can't boycott him. They will settle and he will take a hit for his son.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
tdiplaci February 06 2014 at 12:07 PM

The incompetent judge has taken this tragedy and made it 10 times worse. The victims have no justice at all and the spoiled brat gets away with killing 4 people and crippling another. If the parents did such a bad job of spoiling their rotten brat they should serve jail time for the crimes. The judge needs to be removed from the bench as she has no integrity at all.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
mike711l February 06 2014 at 12:07 PM

That kid just learned the most important life-lesson.

If you are rich you can get off.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
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