Affluenza

Ethan Couch, whose legal team said he suffered from "affluenza" due khổng lồ his privileged upbringing, was released from jail on April 2. (Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)
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That is how many days Ethan Couch served for each of the four people he killed while driving drunk on June 15, 2013. He was speeding at 65 mph when he plowed his father’s Ford F-350 into lớn a group of people on the roadside helping a stranded motorist outside Fort Worth. He was 16 at the time.

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Couch, now 20, was released from Tarrant County jail on Monday after serving two years, or 7trăng tròn days, for a parole violation — not for the deaths of four people.


His release will close a chapter on the story of a teenager turned adult struggling with a bout of “affluenza” that his legal team claimed left hyên unable lớn tell right from wrong because of his family’s wealth. The case took a bizarre turn in năm ngoái after a đoạn Clip of Couch drinking, a violation of his probation, surfaced online and appeared khổng lồ trigger an escape to lớn Mexiteo with his mother.


The incident also prompted a national discussion about how privilege and money appear to bolster legal defenses beyond access to elite lawyers.


Couch’s return khổng lồ society has angered the advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which has pushed for harsher penalties for drunk drivers who kill others.


“It was devastating khổng lồ so many people” for Couch’s release date khổng lồ arrive, MĐịa chỉ cửa hàng President Colleen Sheehey-Church told The Washington Post on Monday. “Seven-hundred & trăng tròn days just shows you drunken driving homicides aren’t treated as violent crimes.”


Sheehey-Church, who lost her son in 2004 in a drunken driving incident, blasted Couch’s defense as a child unable lớn grasp his decision-making.


Hollie Boyles, 52, và her daughter Shelby, 21, had come out of their home to lớn help motorist Breanna Mitchell, 24, after her sport-utility vehicle stalled on that June night in rural Burleson. Brian Jennings, a 41-year-old father of three, was passing by và also decided to lớn help. He parked his truông chồng nearby, his two sons waiting for hyên.


Couch, drunk, with traces of Valium in his blood & driving a truchồng filled with seven other teenagers, left the dark two-lane road & crashed inlớn Mitchell’s vehicle. The collision killed Mitchell, the Boyleses & Jennings before slamming into lớn Jennings’s truchồng, sending the vehicle inlớn traffic. Body parts và wreckage were scattered for nearly 300 feet, D Magazine reported.


A responding Tarrant County sheriff’s deputy later said the scene “looked more lượt thích a plane crash than a car wreck.”


Several people were seriously injured, including Sergio Molina, who was riding in the baông chồng of Couch’s truông xã và was flung on impact. He is paralyzed and can communicate only through blinking. The involved families sued the Couch family & the family business; the Molina family won a $2 million settlement in 2014.


The widely panned “affluenza” defense of Couch surfaced during his trial, where a psychologist said the teenager received whatever he asked for as a child & was constantly rewarded with gifts, wreaking havoc on his ability khổng lồ perceive the consequences of his actions.

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“Instead of the Golden Rule, which was ‘bởi unkhổng lồ others as you would have sầu them vày unkhổng lồ you,’ was taught we have the gold, we make the rules at the Couch household,” G. Dick Miller testified in court. He argued for substance abuse treatment rather than jail. Couch had pleaded guilty to manslaughter and assault while intoxicated.


The court appears to lớn have agreed with the defense. A judge handed down a sentence of 10 years probation in 2013, and Couch was ordered to remain drug- & alcohol-free. He was also required khổng lồ spend time in rehabilitation.


Then in December năm ngoái, Couch was caught drinking in a video that appeared on Twitter. He & his mother, Tonya, fled lớn the lavish Mexican resort city of Puerto Vallarta, triggering a manhunt led by U.S. Marshals for his probation violation. Their location was revealed when they ordered a pizza at their condominium. A judge sentenced Couch lớn two years in prison.


Tonya Couch was booked Wednesday in the same county jail for failing a urine chạy thử mandated as a condition for her bond, which was revoked, the Associated Press reported. She awaits trial in connection with hindering the apprehension of a felon và money laundering in connection with the cross-border escape to lớn Mexiteo with her son. She could not be reached for phản hồi.


A statement provided lớn The Post by Couch’s attorneys stands in contrast khổng lồ the testimony that Couch struggled to understvà the ramifications of his behavior.


“Ethan has admitted his conduct, accepted responsibility for his actions & felt true remorse for the terrible consequences of those actions,” lawyers Scott Brown & Reagan Wynn said, adding that Couch “does not wish lớn draw attention lớn himself and requests privacy” as he focuses on his transition baông chồng to lớn society.


Couch’s release has galvanized MShowroom advocacy for tougher laws to help curb a crime that kills 10,000 people a year, Sheehey-Church said, including a MĐịa Chỉ petition that was started in response khổng lồ his completed sentence.


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