Texas ‘affluenza’ teen Ethan Couch investigated over beer pong viral video
TEXAS teen Ethan Couch got off once. He likely won’t be so lucky a second time.
Couch made headlines in 2013 when he miraculously escaped prison time after hegot drunk, got behind the wheel of a car and ran down four people.
His lawyers broke new ground when they successfully argued the then-16-year-old was suffering from “affluenza” — a condition meaning he was so spoiled by his rich parents he couldn’t possibly be responsible for his own actions.
Couch was spared prison in favour of a 10-year probation period that stipulated he could not, under any circumstances, drink alcohol, drive a car or take drugs. It appears the 18-year-old broke rule number 1 this week.
Footage has emerged allegedly showing Couch involved in a raucous game of beer pong.
The uploader, a user who goes by the handle @BlondeSpectre, wrote: “Ya boy Ethan Couch violating probation. I got more if you want.” He tagged the City of Burleston police page and the Tarrant County District Attorney.
ya boy ethan couch violating probation. i got more if u want @CityofBurleson @TarrantCountyDApic.twitter.com/otiGprQ1uD
— h (@BlondeSpectre) December 2, 2015
In the comments below the video he was told to “Stop snitchin’,” to which he replied: “He killed four people ... I ain’t never stoppin”.
It was June 15, 2013, when Couch got behind the wheel of a red ute and made a decision that would alter the lives of his family, his friends, and a number of perfect strangers.
The teen, whose parents own a multimillion-dollar sheet metal company, had been drinking and taking valium with friends. It’s believed the alcohol was stolen from a Walmart store.
Couch and seven of his friends climbed into his truck and began speeding down a road near Fort Worth in his home state of Texas.
He was doing 50km/h over the speed limit and had a blood alcohol reading three times the legal limit when he ran down four pedestrians. The four, who had stopped by the side of the road after a vehicle broke down, were killed on impact.
Couch’s truck flipped and hit a tree before coming to a stop. None of his seven passengers were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash and all but one escaped serious injury. One of his passengers, Sergio Molina, now communicates by blinking his eyes.
Couch said he remembered nothing apart from getting in the truck and waking up handcuffed to his hospital bed.
In court months later, Couch’s defence lawyer offered up a plausible explanation for the teen’s behaviour. He argued, successfully, with the help of psychologist Gary Miller, that Couch was intellectually 18 but had an emotional age of 12. He called it “affluenza”.
Ethan Couch was found to have been suffering from “affluenza”. Picture: ABC NewsSource:Supplied
Dr Miller said Couch had “no reasonable boundaries” and was “never safe”, ABC News reported.
“I think Ethan Couch is suffering from adjustment reaction to adolescence, I would say. To me, a child needs to be safe from day one. His parents had an adversarial relationship, and Ethan was given a toy when his parents had a fight.”
Dr Miller said Couch was allowed to drive alone when he turned 13 despite his teachers expressing concerns.
“(The teacher) said he’s not allowed to drive to school,” Miller told the court. “(Couch’s father’s response was) something to the effect that, ‘I’ll buy the school,’ or something along that line.” Couch’s parents pulled him out of school and opted for homeschooling.”
A judge agreed that Couch’s upbringing led to his poor decision making and sentenced him to 10 years probation. Fred Couch said he would pay for rehabilitat
ion at a California clinic costing upwards of $450,000 a year.
Not surprisingly, the verdict did not go over well with victims’ families. Eric Boyles, whose wife and daughter were killed in the crash, said at the time: “Money always seems to keep (Couch) out of trouble ... Ultimately today, I felt that money did prevail. If (he) had been any other youth, I feel like the circumstances would have been different.”
Mr Boyles told ABC News that Couch at no stage expressed remorse. “Never once has Ethan apologised in any shape or form,” he said.
Even Couch’s father said he was unsure about the affluenza defence stacking up. In deposition tapes Fred Couch is heard questioning the entire concept.
“I don’t even know that I believe affluenza is real,” he said.
A Tarrant County Sheriff’s spokesman told the Dallas Morning News that a judge will determine whether Couch broke his probation.
“He’s allowed due process at every level. Cases are not prosecuted or revoked or modified based on hearsay or based on a grainy video that we can’t identify someone in.”