Drunk driving ‘affluenza’ teen missing from probation

Posted at 2:41 PM, Dec 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-16 14:42:06-05

To the families of his victims, Texas teen Ethan Couch got off easy with 10 years’ probation after killing four people while driving drunk.

Recently, a video turned up on social media that allegedly showed Couch at a party where alcohol was served, CNN affiliate KTVT reported. The video shows Couch standing alongside peers playing beer pong.

Now his probation officer can’t find him or his mother, Couch’s attorneys said.

“The juvenile probation officer has been unable to make contact with Ethan or his mother with whom he has been residing,” attorneys Scott Brown and William Reagan Wynn said this week.

Under the terms of his probation, Couch isn’t supposed to lose contact with his probation officer, the lawyer said, and the judge has issued a directive to arrest the teenager.

Part of Couch’s defense two years ago was that the then-16-year-old was the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits or boundaries for their son. A psychologist said in court that Couch, who was 16 at the time, suffered from “affluenza.”

The approach was met with widespread outrage and disdain, and the term “affluenza” was widely mocked.

Arrest order

Couch’s attorneys argued in 2013 that his parents, because they spoiled him, were partly to blame for the crash on a road in Burleson, south of Fort Worth.

Prosecutors had asked for 20 years behind bars, but a Tarrant County juvenile court judge sentenced Couch to a decade of probation. Couch was ordered into long-term mental health treatment away from his parents’ influence.

After his recent disappearance, a court ordered Couch arrested. At the time of his conviction, prosecutors said Couch could face up to 10 years of incarceration if he violated the terms of his probation.

Drunken crash

On the night of June 15, 2013, Couch and some friends stole beer from a Walmart.

Hollie Boyles and her daughter Shelby left their home to help Breanna Mitchell, whose SUV had broken down by the side of a road. Brian Jennings, a youth pastor, was driving past and also stopped to help.

Couch plowed into them, killing them all. The crash sent two passengers riding in the bed of Couch’s truck airborne, injuring both severely.

The parents of one of the teens, who suffered debilitating brain injuries, sued Couch’s family for $2 million.

Three hours after the crash tests showed that Couch had a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit. Couch’s vehicle also struck a parked car, which then slid into another vehicle headed in the opposite direction.

Eric Boyles, Hollie’s husband and Shelby’s father, felt the judge had been far too easy on Couch and angrily spoke out against how Couch was treated.

“The primary message has to absolutely be that money and privilege,” he said, “can’t buy justice in this country.”