The Texas judge who gave “affluenza teen” Ethan Couch probation after he killed four people and injured numerous others in a 2013 drunk driving incident, allegedly spoke about her decision recently, at least according to a British newspaper. The now retired judge is reportedly adamant that she made the right judgment and that those who don’t understand her choice simply do not have the facts straight.
The Daily Mail reports that retired judge Jean Boyd convicted Couch on four cases of manslaughter in 2014, yet in a move that shocked the nation, she handed down a sentence of probation and counseling to the teen. Since then, Boyd hasn’t spoken publicly about the notorious “affluenza” case, that is, until this weekend, when she stopped to speak with the press outside of her white stucco home in Texas.
“I had all the facts – most people don’t. They just don’t understand.”
When questioned whether she lives with regret over the decision to give Couch probation and therapy, Boyd quickly stopped the interview with,
“No. I have nothing else to say.”
Another troubling fact for many people is that in 2004, Boyd gave Eric Bradlee Miller, a teenager at the time, 20 years in prison after a drunk driving accident in which he killed two people. The case is eerily similar to that of Couch’s case. However, while Couch came from a wealthy family, Miller came from a poor, broken home, lived with his elderly, disabled grandfather, and couldn’t afford to hire high-profile lawyers to represent him. After sentencing Miller to 20 years behind bars, Boyd told him the following.
“The court is aware you had a sad childhood, but you are fortunate to have a grandfather who is so committed and loves you. I hope you will take advantage of the services [offered by the Texas Youth Commission] and turn your life around.”
Nine years later, as Ethan Couch stood in front of the judge after being handed down 10 years probation and inpatient therapy, Boyd told him the following.
“Ethan, you are responsible for what you did, not your parents. The court is familiar with the Texas Juvenile Justice Department [formerly the Texas Youth Commission] and has sent numerous teens to programs there, and sometimes they don’t even get into the program we designated for them.”
Although criminal experts indicated that no two cases are alike and it’s difficult to compare one juvenile case to another, the majority of people who learned of both cases were shocked at such a huge difference in sentences for the teens.
Yet, Huyen Pham, a criminal law professor at Texas A&M Law School, explained that unlike Couch, Miller committed a felony prior to his drunk driving incident when he stole a truck from a local convenience store in Tarrant County.
“If you’re committing a felony and you murder someone, that’s a lot more serious. It allows the prosecution to substitute intent.”
Meanwhile, after remaining in the juvenile court system for three years, 18-year-old Couch was recently transferred to an adult jail and his case transferred to the Tarrant County adult court. Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson stated that he’s happy that Couch is behind bars, and that after being put into a maximum security detention center, the teen may finally realize just how real his current situation is.
“I wish I could say I saw some sign of remorse or regret, but I can’t say that. I will say this: that after seeing the inside of a maximum security correctional facility, it has finally started to become real to him. Until now, he has treated it [the case] as something of a joke. Now, living what he is living every day, he finally has a real sense of what the world is like.”
Ethan Couch is currently in solitary confinement at the Lon Evans Corrections Center in Tarrant County. Anderson indicated that he’ll remain there for his own safety, but the most jail time he can do is 120 days, unless he violates his probation, which could bring him 10 years in prison for each person he killed.
The Star-Telegram reports that the rumors of Boyd speaking out on the case are false, at least according to her attorney.
[Photo by AP/LM Otero]