The affluenza teen, Ethan Couch, has avoided jail for the second time. In a closed hearing, Judge Jean Boyd formerly sentenced the 16-year-old to 10 years probation. The teen was also ordered to enter a residential rehabilitation facility as a condition of the probation.
On June 15, 2013, Couch was reportedly out drinking with several friends. He and seven others eventually decided to travel to another location. They all piled into Couch’s pickup truck, with a majority of the teens riding unsecured in the truck’s bed.
On the same evening, Breanna Mitchell, age 24, was broken down on the side of the road. When Brian Jennings saw the woman and her disabled vehicle, he and his family stopped help. A total of four people were on the side of the road looking at the vehicle when Couch came barreling down the road.
Authorities said the affluenza teen was driving at least 70 mph when he hit and killed Breanna Mitchell, Brian Jennings, Shelby Boyles, and Hollie Boyles.
He then crashed into Jenning’s car, which was occupied by two others. The impact pushed Jenning’s car into another occupied vehicle before Couch crashed into a tree. The impact launched two passengers from the bed of his truck.
Sergio E. Molina, who was thrown from the pickup, suffered a traumatic brain injury. Although numerous others were hurt in the devastating crash, their injuries were not life-threatening.
Ethan Couch was arrested and charged with four counts of manslaughter and assault while intoxicated. Authorities said the 16-year-old’s blood alcohol was three times the legal limit. Although prosecutors charged him a juvenile, the teen was facing up to 20 years in prison.
As reported by CNN, Couch’s attorney Reagan Wynn said the teen suffered from affluenza. Wynn argued that the teen was raised in a wealthy privileged home with few limits. The lack of boundaries, according to Wynn, stunted Couch’s emotional growth, maturity, and ability to make reasonable decisions.
Although Couch was found guilty, the teen will not spend any time in jail. The decision outraged the victims, their families, the community, and the nation. However, Wynn said the judge’s decision was fair:
“She heard all the evidence and she made what she thought was the appropriate disposition… I think he can be rehabilitated given intensive therapy and I hope that he gets it… The juvenile system is about rehabilitation… she (Boyd) absolutely made the right decision.”
The affluenza teen’s parents will pay for his rehabilitation, which is expected to cost close to $500,000 per year. Although Ethan Couch was ordered to enter the facility, the judge did not specify how long he must stay.