Keller Teen Gets Probation for Drunken Wreck that Killed 4, Pissing Off Just About Everyone

Categories: Crime, News

EthanCouch.jpg
Ethan Couch's Facebook page, via Fox 4
There's no doubt that Ethan Couch, 16, is guilty of drunkenly killing four people in a deadly car crash in Burleson. Last week, the teen pleaded guilty to four counts of intoxication manslaughter stemming from a June 15 wreck in which his Ford pickup, going 70 in a 40-mph zone, veered off the road, killing youth pastor Brian Jennings and three others who were gathered along the side of Burleson-Retta Road to change a flat tire.

Nine others were injured, including two of Couch's passengers. One, Sergio Molina, suffered a severe brain injury and, according to prosecutors, is no longer able to move or talk, according to prosecutors. Couch's blood alcohol content was .24, three times the legal limit.

The open question, then, is whether Couch should have received a harsher punishment. On Tuesday, Tarrant County District Judge Jean Boyd sentenced the teen to 10 years probation, with a mandatory stint in a long-term treatment center, likely to be a $450,000-per-year facility near Newport Beach, California.

Victims' families were dismayed by the verdict, chalking it up to Couch's parents' money. Gawker was incredulous as well, noting that the judge apparently bought the defense's case that Couch was a victim of "affluenza," a kid whose prior misdeeds and indiscretions went unpunished by his parents. He was allowed to begin driving at 13, his attorneys argued in court. When he was 15, he was found in a parked pickup with a passed-out, undressed 14-year-old girl. Aside from the ticket he received from police, he was not punished.

We'll leave the final word to assistant district attorney Richard Alpert, who issued a warning to the court in his closing arguments: "There can be no doubt that he will be in another courthouse one day blaming the lenient treatment he received here."

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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92 comments
darkskiesrock
darkskiesrock

I'm not one for picketing or boycotting, but this judge seriously needs to be pulled from the bench and be fired, reprimanded, and banned from being involved with the legal system for the rest of her life. Just sickening. And I come from an affluent family - let me tell you this, if I did anything like the kid did before the MURDER (let's call it what it is), my ass would have been grass. What in the hell is wrong with parents today. Let's not just throw the affluent under the bus here - it's the majority of parents these days and if you are reading this, probably you. Look in the mirror people. I have a good kid (not perfect by any stretch of the imagination) who was reasonably punished and it made her into the young woman she is today - respectful, honorable, loving, and accountable.

Lions_Love_Jokes
Lions_Love_Jokes

Johnson County....Typical idiocy from that place. I NEVER go there for reasons like this. 

fatboyjohn
fatboyjohn

Judge is a puke the kid and family are pukes. I hope they get theirs. Shit like this should be illegal

gm0622
gm0622

.08 is the "legal" limit for adults over the age of 21

.02 is the max legal limit for juveniles.

of course, i could be wrong, been known to be wrong before.

halldecker
halldecker

I couldn't get this reply to post to the very last message thread. It may be of interest.  If it isn't,  don't read it.  Answering a Q about the chances of a bribe of the Judge:


None. ALL cases involving a 16 year old are filed in JUVENILE Court.  Period.  A Motion to "Certify" the "child" as an adult may be filed by the DA.  I haven't seen that it was.  If it was,  the Judge can grant or deny.  Again,  nobody has reported the DA filed one.

Dallas County has multiple Juvenile Courts.  In smaller Counties a single District Court may hear all kinds of cases,  criminal, civil,  family and juvenile.  


The District Clerk had no choice when the DA filed the case as to which Court it was sent,  except if there are multiple Courts hearing juvenile cases in the County.   Then the computer software that handles assigning a case number does it automatically.


Everybody who says there was a bribe:  PAY ATTENTION.  Except for the Border Counties,  where anything goes,  I don't recall a single N Texas judge being accused of taking bribes in the past 45 years.  There were a couple who liked pretty girls,  all she had to do was sit on their lap and tickle their chins.  They resigned when caught.


In the 70's there were a couple undercover agents at the  Dallas County Courthouse,  trolling for rogue judges.  They spent about a year,  never could find a single example.  Don't ask how I know that.  It wasn't me.

harleydogswurje
harleydogswurje

hope it comes back to him and his family 10-fold  and the judge as well. i hope it was worth every cent his parents paid her

fatboyjohn
fatboyjohn

send the judge email let her know what you think of her.

jboyd@tarrantcounty.com

fatboyjohn
fatboyjohn

You have to understand he is rich.  His life has more value then the people killed.  He doesn't deserve to go to prison or Jail. 

Personally the Judge is a filthy puke.  This kid has 4 counts of homicide and if they don't want to charge him because his parents spoiled him then they should charge his parents and let them serve time in prison for him.  They can split  it.  This kid is a puke the judge is a puke and they should be punished but.

They're rich so it's okay

DFWconspiracy
DFWconspiracy

There is a solution to these types of problems. The advent of surveillance technology is making it easier for police to spot drunk drivers. Here's how they can do it. First, a police plate-scanner takes a picture of your car's license plate at a party, bar or liquor store. Then the police track your driving patterns through the GPS in your mobile device. Neighborhood surveillance cameras also capture your driving behavior. Integrating this information will flag you as a potential DWI risk. Once you are flagged, the police will be notified to pull you over and verify your intoxication. That's where it's headed folks. Don't you feel safer?

TypicalKellerKid
TypicalKellerKid

Sad, I randomly threw a guess as soon as I saw the article that this kid was from either Keller or Southlake. I was not disappointed. Let's dig a moat around that out of touch cesspool and cut them off from the world.

lzippitydoo
lzippitydoo

Both the killer and the judge are obviously in bed together! This killer of 4 gets probation?? There may be civil actions coming up that deplete they parents accounts, but based on history - a probation sentence will insure that he is out and has the opportunity to do the same thing again. If it were my loved ones that were killed - Iwould not sit back and allow this injustice! Sometimes the Charles Bronson justice is better served!

If the judge is elected - he is done in the legal system as some of the bogus stuff they are allowed to do (as in probation here) and up in other US cases - allowing the Kennedy relative to get a new murder trial- just crazy and without reasoning. It reeks of this judge potentially being bought off by the killer's family!

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Per DMN article, judge "will leave the bench after her term expires in 2014".    Hummmmm     Would be interested in a follow-up on what law firm she end up at after "her term expires" 

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Also read today's DMN article     As many suspect there is one legal system for the wealthy and another one for the rest of us.

annebrown
annebrown

The judge is as enabling as the parents! First order of business is he killed 4 people.

ryan762
ryan762

It's a good thing (for him) that he wasn't a 31 year-old Polish woman.

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

It's just disgusting. He's a repeat offender and for that alone he should have been punished. Underage drinking, shoplifted beer, drunk driving, kills four people, severely injured two others and all he gets is a slap on the wrist because mommy and daddy didn't tell him "No" - neither did the cops or court system when he was 15?? (10 years probation IS a slap on the wrist.) Un-effing-believable.


(The composition of this comment is terrible, but I'm to furious about this case to care.)

stylistphd
stylistphd

Absolutely wrong on all levels... at the age of 13 already in trouble with the law... then again at 15 sounding as if he was about to rape a girl (if she was naked and passed out you know he did something) now a year later at 16 he kills 4 and injures more... paralyzing another....if else nothing else he should be in jail for theft.... but no justice for even that.... had he been poor, or black or a minority i'm sure the book would of been thrown!!!!!  

d.andrew.jones
d.andrew.jones

He should do time for taking that selfie in the bathroom mirror!

halldecker
halldecker

THIS WAS NOT A CRIMINAL CASE!!!

In Texas JUVENILE CASES are tried under Civil Court Rules.   Not criminal.

The theory in juvenile cases is "What's in the best interest of the CHILD."  

The Judge found that the sentence she gave was.

He's also on 10 years probation.   You can bet the probation officers will keep a microscope on him.  There are always 'terms and conditions',  e.g.,  refrain from using alcohol.  That means even once. "Break no laws of Texas or any other State."   Once is enough to yo-yo him back to Texas,  there is usually no bond before a probation hearing.

The Judge then has the power to set aside the probation,  give him the full 10 years in the State Pen.  That's what the DA said was going to happen.  And you can damn well bet the Judge WILL throw his young ass in the pen for 10 years.  The time he served on probation doesn't count against the 10.

He either gets his head straight and has what's called a "come to Jesus" discussion with himself,  or he's on the barred window bus to Huntsville.

Although,  it's interesting the Judge delayed the Hearing to 16 hours after the deadline for anybody to file to run against her in next year's election.



TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

After reading all of these comments, I must reiterate the fact that we do not have a justice system, we have a legal system. Justice is an ideal.

Legality varies according to one's ability to navigate the legal system economically, reducing justice to nothing more than an pricey commodity.

How much justice could you afford?


Tolldya
Tolldya

There's a serious case of injustice here, and even more glaring coming from the so-called justice system.  In truth there is no justice that will ever be found here, but to spit on the families of the victims as this judge has done is beyond contempt.  Damn the excuses.  The vile parents and the idiot son should face the penalty of this horrible crime. The families must take it upon themselves to seek some reparation, but there is no such thing that will heal their suffering.  I don't like this America of yours. Not one damn bit.  

ebailey75057
ebailey75057

 "Couch was a victim of "affluenza," 

This judge lets him go after he gets drunk, gets behind the wheel and kills 4 people, and injures 9 others.   And the judge waves it off to bad parenting? 

Give me a fing break! 

jamessavik
jamessavik

It's a hard thing to put the hammer down on a 16 year old kid but this guy has caused so much mayhem.


I don't think it would be unreasonable to have a very thorough investigation of this case and see if the judge didn't just make a very large deposit of cash. Nobody walks away from that many bodies unless something is very, very wrong.

nd68
nd68

@DFWconspiracy Unfortunately, that's that way we'll probably go rather than the easy solution...accountability. 

jeaneanp
jeaneanp

@annebrown Mike Vick got more time than that for killing four dogs. I said it then and I'll say it now. This screwed up society we live in and the powers that be obviously feel like nonhuman life is more valuable than human life..but we already knew that cause you can legally kill babies in this country. Abortion:  that's another topic for another day.

kittiesarenice
kittiesarenice

@halldeckerThe question is just what kind of sweetheart deal did the family strike with the DA that this ended up in Family Court in the first place. It should never have gone before this judge at all. And I agree with you about the filing deadline.... Here's hoping some drunk rich kid gives her vehicular justice. It would only be fitting.

goste906
goste906

@halldecker -- if he were black or brown...or just not rich he would have been tried as an adult.

halldecker
halldecker

Go talk to the "Tough on Crime" legislators all of you keep electing,  they make the rules. 

Johnny Bananas
Johnny Bananas

@halldecker who gives a shit about all that.  he is responsible for the deaths of 4 individuals, he should in jail now!!!!

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk pretty sure I couldnt afford probation for 4 DWI voluntary manslaughters.  Id probably get 10 years.  Then again I cant blame parents, Im a little too old for that

jeaneanp
jeaneanp

@ebailey75057halldecker  Cause God forbid the upper-middle class to filthy rich little white boy has to accept responsibility for his actions and suffer consequences of those actions like the rest of us. He may not have had to answer to the Judge; but like the lady said in the video:  he will have to answer to God!

halldecker
halldecker

@mbs235@halldecker good point.

read the story,  with this background.  Judge got caught up in a nasty,  vicious fight over who'd control the Collin County Courthouse.  They also convicted the District Clerk,  seems like there were a couple others.   Part of the final deal was the Judge and Clerk gave up their right to appeal.;  There were huge reasons the DA insisted on that.

Case never made any sense.    Judges got the same thing going on now with Tea Party folks trying to dis-elect them.  Nice word,  huh.

Bribery,  in the South and West Texas tradition,  (and Louisiana)  is somebody taking a paper bag of large bills into the Judge's Chambers.

That's what the Feds were looking for at the Dallas Courthouse,  and somebody suggested happened with this case.   Which is why I posted that classic old bribery didn't happen.  The Judge knew (or should have)  that there'd be Hell to pay,  problem with things like that is more than one person knows.

fatboyjohn
fatboyjohn

Yes sarcasm. Thought it was pretty obvious.

DFWconspiracy
DFWconspiracy

You can't stop the Illuminati New World Order takeover.

halldecker
halldecker

@kittiesarenice@halldecker

@kittiesarenice@halldecker  

None. ALL cases involving a 16 year old are filed in JUVENILE Court.  Period.  A Motion to "Certify" the "child" as an adult may be filed by the DA.  I haven't seen that it was.  If it was,  the Judge can grant or deny.  Again,  nobody has reported the DA filed one.

Dallas County has multiple Juvenile Courts.  In smaller Counties a single District Court may hear all kinds of cases,  criminal, civil,  family and juvenile.  


The District Clerk had no choice when the DA filed the case as to where it was sent,  except if there are multiple Courts hearing juvenile cases in the County.   Then the computer software that handles assigning a case number does it automatically.


Everybody who says there was a bribe:  PAY ATTENTION.  Except for the Border Counties,  where anything goes,  I don't recall a single N Texas judge being accused of taking bribes in the past 45 years.  There were a couple who liked pretty girls,  all she had to do was sit on their lap and tickle their chins.  They resigned when caught.


In the 70's there were a couple undercover agents at the  Dallas County Courthouse,  trolling for rogue judges.  They spent about a year,  never could find a single example.  Don't ask how I know that.  It wasn't me.

halldecker
halldecker

@kittiesarenice@halldecker

@kittiesarenice@halldecker  

None. ALL cases involving a 16 year old are filed in JUVENILE Court.  Period.  A Motion to "Certify" the "child" as an adult may be filed by the DA.  I haven't seen that it was.  If it was,  the Judge can grant or deny.  Again,  nobody has reported the DA filed one.

Dallas County has multiple Juvenile Courts.  In smaller Counties a single District Court may hear all kinds of cases,  criminal, civil,  family and juvenile.  


The District Clerk had no choice when the DA filed the case as to where it was sent,  except if there are multiple Courts hearing juvenile cases in the County.   Then the computer software that handles assigning a case number does it automatically.


Everybody who says there was a bribe:  PAY ATTENTION.  Except for the Border Counties,  where anything goes,  I don't recall a single N Texas judge being accused of taking bribes in the past 45 years. 

halldecker
halldecker

@kittiesarenice@halldecker 

None. ALL cases involving a 16 year old are filed in JUVENILE Court.  Period.  A Motion to "Certify" the "child" as an adult may be filed by the DA.  I haven't seen that it was.  If it was,  the Judge can grant or deny.  Again,  nobody has reported the DA filed one.

Dallas County has multiple Juvenile Courts.  In smaller Counties a single District Court may hear all kinds of cases,  criminal, civil,  family and juvenile.  


The District Clerk had no choice when the DA filed the case as to where it was sent,  except if there are multiple Courts hearing juvenile cases in the County.   Then the computer software that handles assigning a case number does it automatically.


Everybody who says there was a bribe:  PAY ATTENTION.  Except for the Border Counties,  where anything goes,  I don't recall a single N Texas judge being accused of taking bribes in the past 45 years.  There were a couple who liked pretty girls,  all she had to do was sit on their lap and tickle their chins.  They resigned when caught.


In the 70's there were a couple undercover agents at the  Dallas County Courthouse,  trolling for rogue judges.  They spent about a year,  never could find a single example.  Don't ask how I know that.  It wasn't me.



halldecker
halldecker

I haven't practiced juvenile law in over 25 years.   I know nothing about this Judge or DA. 


With that preface,  from what I do know about the Texas criminal justice system, and I'm lumping juvenile in with it,  as an Officer of the Court I'm ashamed to tell you that you're almost certainly right. 

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