Ethan Couch escaped with probation from his trial on four counts of intoxication manslaughter. But Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon is apparently still working to put the Burleson teen behind bars.
Couch on Dec. 5 admitted he was guilty of causing the June 15 crash that killed Brian Jennings, Hollie Boyles, Shelby Boyles and Breanna Mitchell and critically injured teens Sergio Molina and Solimon Mohmand. Last week, District Judge Jean Boyd sentenced Couch to 10 years’ probation on four charges of intoxication manslaughter.
But Shannon said this week that no verdict has been entered on the two charges of intoxication assault Couch faced in connection with the injuries to Molina and Mohmand. The DA said his office will be asking the judge to sentence the teen to jail on both charges.
In a statement emailed Wednesday to the Times-Review, Shannon said, “During his recent trial, the 16-year-old admitted his guilt in four cases of intoxication manslaughter and two cases of intoxication assault. There has been no verdict formally entered in the two intoxication assault cases. Every case deserves a verdict. The District Attorney’s Office is asking the court to incarcerate the teen on the two intoxication assault cases. Due to limitations in the Family Code, we are unable to make additional comments.”
Under Texas juvenile law, the maximum sentence Couch faces on the two intoxication assault charges is three years in a Texas Juvenile Justice Department facility. He would have to be released when he turns 19. On the other end of the spectrum, the judge could choose to assess no punishment.
Boyd’s decision to sentence Couch — who, according to blood tests performed a few hours after the wreck, was about three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system — only to probation has sparked outrage around the world.
It has also prompted the Tarrant County DA to announce his intentions to push Texas lawmakers for changes in the juvenile justice system to prevent such light sentencing in future cases.
Also garnering international attention has been the assessment of a psychologist testifying for the defense that Couch and his parents suffered from “affluenza,” and have been cocooned against the consequences of their actions by their wealth. The possibility that Couch could be sent to an exclusive rehabilitation facility in California has raised ire, as well.
The rehab facility in Newport Beach offers yoga and cooking classes, horseback riding and access to the beach. It costs about $450,000 a year, a cost Couch’s father, Cleburne Sheet Metal owner Fred Couch, has agreed to pay.
According to WFAA.com, dating back to 1989, Fred Couch shows up 23 times in Johnson County police records. Included in the records are charges of criminal mischief, theft by check and assault. The cases were dismissed. Tonya Couch, divorced from Ethan’s father in 2007, was charged with reckless driving in 2003.
Ethan Couch remains in a Tarrant County juvenile detention facility while the juvenile probation prepares a report about possible treatment programs. If he violates his probation, he could be sent to prison for up to 10 years.
In addition to the still-pending criminal charges, Ethan Couch, his parents and his father’s company are named as defendants in five civil lawsuits stemming from the deadly crash. The families of all four of those killed in the crash and the families of Molina and Mohmand have filed lawsuits.
By Tammye Nash - Cleburne Times-Review, Texas (MCT)
©2013 the Cleburne Times-Review (Cleburne, Texas)
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