The judge who bought the “affluenza” argument for teenager Ethan Couch has declined to give him jail time once again on new convictions. The 16-year-old from Texas killed four people and severely injured two others after driving while drunk and high last June. His blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit and he also admitted to being under the influence of prescription drugs. But rather than jail time, Couch was allowed to attend a swanky private rehab after his defense attorney argued that his wealthy upbringing didn’t allow him to serve consequences and distinguish right from wrong
He was sentenced yesterday for the two intoxication assault counts against him stemming from the incident, but despite pleading guilty, Judge Jean Boyd did not give him any jail time. He could have faced up to three years in juvenile hall on the charges. Couch will now return to the luxury private rehab facility in Newport Beach, CA, which costs $450,000 per year and is being paid for by his father. Protests for Boyd to step down from her position over the controversial ruling are still ongoing.
The affluenza diagnosis given by Dr. Gary Miller argued that Couch “never learned to say that you’re sorry if you hurt someone. If you hurt someone, you sent him money.” Miller also said the teen had an “intellectual age” of 18, but an “emotional age” of 12.
One of the two people still alive after the incident, 16-year-old Sergio Molas, is now completely paralyzed and requires 24-hour care as he is “minimally conscious.” He can only communicate with his family by blinking. Doctors have told his parents that they should not expect any improvements beyond his current condition. They have sued Couch’s family and his father’s business for $20 million in damages.
“That kid killed four people and crippled my little brother and doesn’t even have to serve one year?” asked Sergio’s older brother, Alex Lemus. “If he were poor like us, he would have gotten 10 years.”