FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - A teenager who killed four people while driving drunk has been sentenced to probation.
A 16-year-old boy who drunkenly killed four people got probation this week because the judge agreed with the boy's defense that he was a victim of "affluenza," whose parents taught him wealth and privilege shield consequences. Prosecutors were pushing for 16-year-old Ethan Couch to spend 20 years in prison.
There was no debate about who was behind the wheel last June, when Couch plowed into and killed four people. Couch has admitted to being the driver, and court records show his blood alcohol level was .24 at the time of the crash, three times the legal limit for an adult. Prosecutors also presented evidence that Couch and some friends stole beer from a Burleson Walmart on June 15, the night of the crash. After consuming the alcohol, Couch and seven others got back into his pickup to go to another store. During the trip, he hit four pedestrians, killing them. Two teens riding in Couch’s pickup were thrown from the truck and severely injured.
Couch’s attorneys argued his parents were responsible for the teen’s actions that night because of the way he had been raised. Defense attorneys put a psychologist on the stand who testified Couch was a product of wealth and got whatever he wanted. The psychologist also testified the teen was allowed to drink at a very young age and began driving at 13 years old. Defense attorneys argued Couch needed treatment, not jail and suggested a facility that costs almost half a million dollars a year.
The victim’s family members began crying in court when the sentence was announced Tuesday evening.