A former prosecutor who’s been following the Ethan Couch case thinks that the 18-year-old “affluenza teen” will serve prison time in an adult detention center once his case moves to adult court.
FOX 4 reports that David Waddill, former First Assistant District Attorney of Collin County, Texas, is no way involved in the Couch case, but provided his own insights into what he feels will happen to the teen. Wadill thinks that this time around, no amount of money will help Couch out of the situation.
“Money’s not going to be able to get him out of this. They’ll allege the violations and then the judge will have the following things to consider: what is the best thing for our community and the safety of our citizens to do with Mr. Couch.”
According to Texas law, a single manslaughter charge carries a prison sentence term of anywhere from two to 20 years. Couch was charged with four counts of manslaughter in 2013. Wadill states that the presiding judge over Couch’s case has the right to add on prison time for each charge.
“The judge has the range of punishment and the judge can also stack those sentences so each one of the cases, there’s four of them, could be twenty years apiece stacked so he could get eighty years.”
Wadill also stated that although Couch may get the minimum of only two years, given the severity of his crimes, coupled with him violating probation and fleeing to Mexico, it’s highly doubtful that the teen will avoid any prison time.
“He could get two non-stacked. He could just say I’m going to run them all together and he could do two years. I haven’t seen anyone who runs away to another country avoid responsibility and prison time afterwards and I wouldn’t expect it here.”
Couch’s potential prison time stems from a 2013 drunk driving accident, when at only 16, he plowed into a group of innocent bystanders and a broken-down vehicle on the side of the road in the Fort Worth area. The impact of the crash was so severe that a chain reaction started with other vehicles, resulting in four deaths and numerous injuries.
During his trial, a psychologist testified that Couch suffered from “affluenza,” a term coined as someone who grew up with an affluent lifestyle and, in turn, never learned the consequences of breaking laws.
Although the term angered many of the people following the case, the judge seemed to agree with the psychologist and handed down a 10-year-probation sentence to someone who killed four innocent people during a drunk night out with friends. As expected, the sentence infuriated the victims’ families. The case quickly spread throughout the nation, making Couch one of the most despised teenagers in the country.
To make matters worse, Couch was allegedly caught playing beer pong after a video leaked of him and his friends. Part of his probation includes avoiding any kind of alcohol, but instead of facing up to his probation officer, the teen fled the country before his probation meeting. His mother, Tonya Couch, assisted with funding the escape and traveled along with her son to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Couch and his mother were found in Mexico in December of last year, but instead of going back to Texas peacefully, the teen fought extradition for a month, only recently returning back to the U.S.
His attorney Scott Brown indicated that Couch won’t be fighting the transfer to adult court, stating that it was expected to happen once Couch became an adult. However, last month the defense lawyer said that they’re hopeful that Couch will only remain on probation.
“We are optimistic that Ethan can complete, successfully complete, his probation once he’s transferred to adult court.”
Ethan Couch is currently awaiting a February 19 court hearing, when he’ll learn if he’s transferring to an adult court or not.
[Photo by Instituto Nacional de Migracion, INM, via AP]