On the night of June 15th, 2013, the town of Burleson, Texas became the scene of a grisly, heartbreaking series of car accidents that left four innocent people dead.
Sixteen-year-old Ethan Couch, after hours of drinking beer and grain alcohol with friends at the residence he allegedly lived in without parental supervision, got behind the wheel of his truck with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit.
Deposition tapes revealed that Couch was driving erratically, at almost 70 miles per hour, down a two lane country road and intentionally crossing into the path of oncoming cars before he swerved and lost control of his vehicle.
Couch’s truck skidded into a ditch, where he collided with the broken down vehicle of 24 year old Breanna Mitchell, who had spun out on the road only a short time before.
She was standing near her car awaiting assistance with Hollie Boyles and her 21 year old daughter, Shelby, who lived across the road and Brian Jennings, a local pastor who had been driving past and pulled over to offer help. Mitchell, Hollie and Shelby Boyles, and Jennings were all killed in the collision.
A Trial in the National Spotlight
The trial gained national attention when psychologist Dr. G. Dick Miller took the stand to testify on Couch’s behalf, claiming that the 16-year-old was the victim of affluenza a fabricated term implying that the combination of wealthy upbringing and lack of restrictions or consequences from his parents was the root cause of his fatally irresponsible actions.
Couch was sentenced to 10 years of probation and time in rehab, a much lighter sentence than the 20 years behind bars sought by the prosecution.
The now 18-year-old, so called affluenza teen and his mother are now back in the spotlight.
Following the appearance of an online video posted in December 2015 that shows Couch at a party where alcohol is present, he and his mother disappeared. The duo evaded authorities for almost two weeks before a tip revealed that they were in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where they were arrested on December 28.
The blatant violations of his probation terms have placed Couch back in custody and awaiting trial. However, because the accident took place while he was still a minor, there is dispute over how the case should be handled.
It is currently set in juvenile court, which could result in Couch remaining in the juvenile detention center where he is currently being held until he becomes eligible for parole on his 19th birthday in April.
But if the case is moved to adult court, the sentencing could be up to 10 years per victim in prison, something many people feel would bring at least some small measure of justice to the loved ones of the innocent victims who lost their lives due to Couch’s recklessness.
How a Lawyer Can Help
In tragedies of this nature, it is imperative that the rights of those left behind are protected and that if they choose, they can pursue compensation.
If you or someone you love has been injured by a drunk driver, professional guidance can be invaluable. The Fort Worth auto accident attorneys at Anderson Cummings are highly trained in DUI accidents and can provide you a free case evaluation and assist you as you choose the best way to proceed in seeking the damages you deserve. An injury lawyer from our firm will also not charge any upfront fees if we take on your case.
Contact us today to request your free evaluation.