Texas tries to put white teen with 'affluenza' behind bars
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Texas prosecutors are trying a second time to imprison a teen who was sentenced last week to 10 years’ probation for drunkenly driving his truck into four pedestrians, killing them all.
Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon has asked a juvenile judge to put 16-year-old Ethan Couch behind bars on two cases of intoxication assault that he says are still pending before the court, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Tuesday.
“During his recent trial, the 16-year-old admitted his guilt in four cases of intoxication manslaughter and two cases of intoxication assault,” Shannon said in an email to the newspaper. “There has been no verdict formally entered in the two intoxication assault cases. Every case deserves a verdict.”
Two teens riding in the back of Couch’s Ford F-350 pickup truck in the June wreck suffered critical injuries. According to testimony, one of them, Sergio Molina, is paralyzed and can communicate only by blinking.
District Judge Jean Boyd gave Couch 10 years’ probation last Tuesday after a sentencing hearing in which Couch’s attorneys argued his wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility — an affliction one witness called “affluenza.” Prosecutors had asked for a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
Couch’s blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit and there were traces of Valium in his system when he lost control of his pickup, plowing into a group of people helping a woman whose car had stalled.
Seven passengers were riding in Couch’s truck. In addition to Molina, Solimon Mohmand suffered numerous broken bones and internal injuries.
Defense attorneys had requested a lengthy probationary term at a costly rehabilitation facility in California, promising that Couch’s parents would foot the bill. During sentencing, Boyd said he might not get the kind of intensive therapy in a state-run program that he could receive at the California facility.
Under Texas juvenile law, the maximum allowable sentence in Couch’s intoxication assault case would be three years in a Texas Juvenile Justice Department facility; he would be released no later than his 19th birthday.
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