A spoiled Texas teen who killed four in a drunken driving accident dodged prison and was sentenced to probation instead after defense lawyers argued his wealthy parents never taught him right from wrong.
Ethan Couch, 16, was facing 20 years behind bars for the horrific June wreck, but instead walked out of a Fort Worth courtroom Tuesday with 10 years' probation.
The rich brat's legal team said he needed counseling, not hard time, and proposed sending him to a posh Southern California treatment facility that would cost his family $500,000 a year.
For now, he was set to remain at a juvenile detention center until authorities determined his fate.
State District Judge Jean Boyd's decision to let the teen walk had the victims' families outraged.
"Money always seems to keep [Couch] out of trouble," Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter in the wreck, told the Star-Telegram newspaper.
"Ultimately today, I felt that money did prevail. If [he] had been any other youth, I feel like the circumstances would have been different."
The fatal crash occurred on June 15 when Couch, loaded on booze and Valium, lost control of his speeding Ford F-350 pick-up and smashed into a broken-down car beside a road outside Burleson.
Breanna Mitchell, 24, the stranded car's driver, was killed instantly, along with three Good Samaritans who were helping her: mother and daughter Hollie Boyles, 52, and Shelby Boyles, 21; and youth pastor Brian Jennings, 41.
Seven teens were riding in Couch's car at the time. Two, who were sitting in the truck bed, were critically injured.
One of them, Sergio Molina, remains paralyzed and brain damaged after several months in a coma, and can only communicate by blinking his eye, the Star-Telegram reported.
Authorities said Couch was going 70 mph on the rural 40 mph stretch, and a breath test showed his blood-alcohol-content was .24 — triple the legal driving limit for someone over 21.
During the trial, prosecutors said Couch and his pals had been partying with beer they stole from Walmart, and were on another booze run when the crash occurred.
In all, 11 people were injured. Local authorities said the crash scene was the most horrific they've encountered.
A witness for the defense, psychologist Dr. G. Dick Miller, blamed the boy's parents.
Miller testified that Couch was the troubled product of a broken home who got whatever he wanted from his wealthy parents and didn't understand consequences.
Miller called the teen a victim of "affluenza," a rich-kid syndrome that led him to believe money solved everything.
Couch was never disciplined, abused alcohol and had "freedoms no young person should have," including being allowed to drive when he was 13, Miller said.
"The teen never learned to say that you're sorry if you hurt someone," Miller said, according to the Star-Telegram. "If you hurt someone, you sent him money."
The families of his victims said money wouldn't buy their loved ones back.
Breanna Mitchell's mother, Marla Mitchel, wore some of her cremated daughter's ashes in a locket around her neck during the trial, according to local reports.
She told the Star-Telegram, "[Couch] is not free. None of us knows what God's plan is. He has not escaped judgment. That is in the hands of a higher power."
Since the teen suffers from "affluenza" then hopefully the civil case takes every dime from his parents.
Seems like the best "treatment" for him, no?
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for free-markets, capitalism, and personal responsibility, but since this kid's defense was basically "my parents were rich and because of that didn't raise me right" shouldn't the plantiffs' in a civil case deserve the entirety of the defendants' assets if (when) they win?