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'Affluenza' teen Ethan Couch evades jail time again, will go to rehab

Ethan Couch killed four people in a drunk-driving accident last year.
Posted By Kate Stanton   |   Feb. 6, 2014 at 6:44 PM   |   Comments

FORT WORTH, Texas, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- State District Judge Jean Boyd decided not to sentence Ethan Couch, the 16-year-old Texan who killed four people in a drunk-driving accident last summer, to jail time on top of his 10 years probation. Instead, Boyd ordered Couch to attend a lockdown residential treatment facility paid for by his parents.

Couch's case attracted national attention last December when his defense lawyers controversially argued that he suffered from "affluenza," and was too spoiled to understand the consequences of his actions.

When Couch was sentenced to 10 years' probation, Tarrant County prosecutors decided to pursue jail time in regards to two additional charges that never received a verdict. Two teenage passangers in Couch's truck weren't killed, but suffered serious injuries.

On Tuesday, Boyd denied the prosecutors' requests for jail time, sentencing Couch to treatment with no minimum.

Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter in the crash, wasn't happy with Couch's punishment.

“After six, seven, nine months, who knows, he walks out and is able to move on with his life,” Boyles told the Star-Telegram.

Prosecutor Richard Alpert had asked for the maximum sentence of 20 years in jail.

"This has been a very frustrating experience for me," he said. "I'm used to a system where the victims have a voice and their needs are strongly considered. The way the system down here is currently handled, the way the law is, almost all the focus is on the offender."

Couch's lawyer, Reagan Wynn, told reporters that Boyd specifically told the court that the term "affluenza" did not influence her decision.

"[Boyd] said [the word], and specifically mentioned that that was not a basis for her decision," Wynn told CNN. "She heard all the evidence and she made what she thought was the appropriate disposition."

Couch will not be able to drink or drive for 10 years under the terms of his probation.

"The juvenile system is about rehabilitation and if it's going to be about rehabilitation, [Boyd] absolutely made the right decision," Wynn added.

[Fort Worth Star-Telegram, CNN]

Follow @KateStan and @UPI on Twitter.
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