Ethan Couch, the sixteen-year-old who killed four people fixing a young woman's flat tire in June, was given ten years of probation Tuesday for intoxication manslaughter. The teen barreled into Brianna Mitchell and three Good Samaritans in a Ford F-350 truck just before midnight. The defense argued that Couch, who had been drinking and driving, was a victim of "affluenza" - the product of a wealthy family who always gave him what he wanted without limitations - and that his parents should be partially to blame for his unruly behavior.
Youth pastor Brian Jennings pulled over to help Brianna Mitchell fix her SUV's flat tire on June 15, not knowing that this act of kindness would cost him his life. Hollie Boyles and her daughter Shelby lived nearby where Mitchell had stopped her vehicle, and also came over to assist her with her tire. Moments later, Ethan Couch's truck collided with another vehicle nearby and killed them all.
There were seven other passengers in Couch's vehicle, one of whom sustained an injury to his brain and can no longer move or speak. The teen and his friends had stolen beer from Walmart on the evening of the crash, and were reportedly going thirty miles over the speed limit. Couch had been ticketed for excessive speeding in the past, and had also been charged with being a minor in possession at the age of 15.
Couch's lawyers argue that his parents should bear part of the blame for his actions. According to Fox News, the defense suggested that Couch would have a better chance at becoming a productive member of society if he were treated rather than imprisoned. They recommended that the teen be rehabilitated at a center in Newport Beach, California, which would cost his parents more than $450,000 per year.
According to CNN, the prosecution had asked for 20 years in prison. While the youth pastor's wife and son have forgiven Couch for his actions, many family members of the deceased are upset by the leniency of the teenager's sentence. Some believe that Couch's affluence got him out of imprisonment, a sentence which any other teenager would have likely received.
Couch's parents are facing lawsuits for the minor's actions. If the teen violates the terms of his probation, he will face up to ten years of imprisonment.