Teen Kills 4 in DUI, Escapes Jail Sentence

Because, as his lawyers argued, he's too spoiled to blame

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 11, 2013 12:48 PM CST

(Newser) – Ethan Couch got drunk last June, drove with a blood alcohol level three times the legal adult limit, and killed four pedestrians. But instead of the 20 years the 16-year-old Texas teen could have served in prison, he got 10 years of probation, CBS Local reports. Why? Apparently Couch's attorneys' controversial argument worked: They said Couch's wealthy parents were actually to blame, because Couch was used to getting whatever he wanted. He also started driving at 13 and was allowed to drink. (Although the alcohol from the night in question may have been stolen by Couch and his friends ... from a Walmart.)

The defense team argued that Couch needs treatment, and the judge told Couch she doesn't think he could get the therapy he needs in jail, WFAA reports. His attorneys' suggestion: a California facility that costs $450,000 a year, with Couch's dad footing the bill. A psychologist who testified said Couch should also have no contact with his parents during his one or two years in treatment; he actually used the term "affluenza" to describe what the teen apparently suffers from. The only time Couch, who was driving around 70mph in a 40mph zone when the crash occurred, will spend in a detention center is the time it takes for him to be placed in a treatment facility.

Ethan Couch
Ethan Couch   (YouTube)
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