Critics say Texas judge should have sent teen to prison for DUI deaths

Dec. 13, 2013 at 3:07 PM
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FORT WORTH, Texas, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- The judge who spared a teenager a prison sentence for killing four people while driving drunk was following Texas law, a retired judge says.

John Cruezot told WFAA-TV, Dallas, Thursday Judge Jean Boyd is being subjected to unfair criticism. Boyd placed Ethan Couch, 16, on probation for 10 years, ordering him to spend at least a year in a residential treatment facility followed by a year of outpatient treatment.

Cruezot, who also served as a judge in Texas, says the law assumes juveniles can be rehabilitated. Couch's most likely destination is a private facility in California where his parents would pay $37,000 a month.

The case has attracted national attention, partly because a psychiatrist testifying for the teenager said he suffered from "affluenza," which is not a recognized disorder. The psychiatrist said Couch grew up in an affluent family with parents who set no limits.

The sentence has angered the families of Couch's victims, who were on the sidewalk when he hit them with his car, and advocates for tougher treatment of drunk drivers.

"I think once you're behind the wheel it doesn't matter where you're from, who you are, how famous you are, how poor, how rich, how anything," Jeff Miracle of Mothers Against Drunk Driving told KXAS-TV, Fort Worth. "I think when we're given a driver's license that's a privilege and a part of that privilege has a responsibility."

An online petition has been started urging Gov. Rick Perry to remove Boyd from the bench. Boyd has already announced she does not plan to run for re-election next year.

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