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Drunk Teen kills four, injures nine. Gets probation. Options · View
LadyX
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 8:38:00 AM

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http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2013/12/keller_teen_gets_probation_for.php

This is a giant local story that is now getting national attention.

Wealthy 16-year-old Ethan Couch goes out with his friends and steals beer from a grocery store, which they quickly drink, then decide they need to go out and get (presumably steal) more beer. Meanwhile, a motorist has a flat tire, and others stop to help, including a mother and her daughter, as well as a youth pastor. Couch, who registered a blood alcohol level 3 times the legal limit, plows into the vehicle and the bystanders, killing all four. Two passengers were thrown from Couch's vehicle, one of which is paralyzed and can only communicate by blinking his eyes.

His attorney as well as an attending psychologist maintained that he suffered from "Affluenza", meaning that he believes money can solve all problems, having been raised in an affluent environment with parents who failed to nurture, and instead simply bought him whatever he wanted or needed. As a result, the psychologist said, he was never taught right from wrong and doesn't understand consequences for his actions.

He was eligible for a 20-year prison sentence, though it's important to note that as a juvenile in Texas, he's a ward of the juvenile system until the age of 19, at which time his custody would be transferred to the Department of Corrections (the adult prison system). However, the reality is that in all but the most violent offenders, the DofC immediately paroles (releases) the former juveniles as soon as they are of the age to transfer into their system. This means that, practically speaking, he would have been in juvenile detention for two years and then released into society. At least with probation, Couch's representation and the judge agreed, he will stay in the system, closely monitored for the entire 10 years instead of essentially off the grid in 2. His probation sentence starts with a stint in a private substance abuse rehabilitation facility in Southern California, which his parents will pay close to $500,000/year for.

It's hard to believe that this kid's family wealth didn't play a role in the fact that he will completely escape any time behind bars for killing four people while driving drunk. The lawyers and the psychologist said that due to his family's money and their parental negligence, he didn't know right from wrong, because nobody taught him.

-

Funny how nobody questions whether the poor African-American criminal who has 9 siblings and a single mom was ever taught right from wrong, isn't it? Where's the leniency for that kid? But more to the point: how is that horseshit argument given any credence at all? To me, the saddest part of this is their argument that he needs probation and rehabilitation due to the fact that he thinks "money can solve anything." Yet, what's the lesson he's learning by not going to jail and instead watching pacific sunsets in a posh rehab facility? That money can solve anything.

A wife and infant son no longer have a loving husband and father. A husband lost his two girls: his wife and daughter. A mom and dad lost their daughter, who just happened to have a flat tire on the road between a spoiled 16 year old kid and more stolen beer. And he gets probation.

At the very least, the parents who can afford half-a-million for their son's rehab can afford to get the snot sued out of them in civil court.
lafayettemister
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 8:59:35 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 10/4/2010
Posts: 6,376
Location: Alabama, United States
What a horrible fucking story. And what a complete bullshit defense, except that it fucking worked. So, since money can solve all problems, and drunkard little Ethan gets a horribly light sentence, he's proven right. And the state is continuing the non teaching of right and wrong. What a crock of shit.

The reasoning for the light sentence is bullshit too. Fine, if juvie criminals are usually released at the age of 19, so what. Sentence him to juvenile detention for three years (age 16 to age 19) and part of the sentence can be on probation for 10 years after... so they can keep him in the system. Even that is bullshit though. Send him to juvie, then when he's 19, send him to big boy prison. Bullshit on the $500k/year rehab facility. Send his little ass to some cheap state run rehab or rehab him in jail. Let his parents keep that $500k so the victims and their families will have a bigger bite of the apple when they sue.

There shouldn't be any leniency for anyone that intentionally or unintentionally but stupidly kills someone.

Furthermore, the judge should lose his seat and be investigated. If I were a victim or family member of a victim, I know I'd think the judge took some money behind the scenes.

There is nothing at all good about this story.





When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser. Socrates
malebox
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 9:04:39 AM

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Location: United States
A complete travesty of justice. IF he were spoiled by his parents and they should share in the culpability as explained by the judge all of them should go to jail.
thesexynun
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 9:17:04 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 11/18/2013
Posts: 477
Location: the nunnery, United States
how sickening

it is A CHOICE to drink and drive

a CHOICE to drink under age

now what CHOICE did his victims have I ask..you

none



" smile..it is the second best thing to do with your LIPS!"
Magical_felix
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 9:41:41 AM

Rank: Wild at Heart

Joined: 4/3/2010
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Location: California
C.R.E.A.M.



dpw
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 12:09:07 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 9/15/2013
Posts: 3,228
Location: Liverpool, United Kingdom
Magical_felix wrote:
C.R.E.A.M.

Not just around you, it's everbody unfortunately and not just in your country.
It's a case of some are more equal than others. The problem with the judiciary in so many countries is they have lost the whole concept of "what is right".
A 16 year old drunk rich white boy kills people whilst driving = Parole.
A 16 year old innocent black boy is shot dead riding his bike = nothing.
That's what I call justice.
If money talks then the judges should be deaf to it!
BikeBoy
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 12:53:44 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 229
Location: Ski town, BC, Canada, Canada
In a perfect world:

Judge: "After hearing the unique argument by the defense I feel obliged to offer an equally unique sentencing option. To the parents, you are responsible for your child's life, both the actions and outcome, until the age of 18. I will give you 15 minutes to decide whether it will be the both of you or he alone who spends the next 20 years behind bars. And bailiff, please escort the defense lawyers out of the courtroom immediately to allow the parents to make their decision unencumbered. I'll start the clock now and await your answer."

lafayettemister
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 12:58:40 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 10/4/2010
Posts: 6,376
Location: Alabama, United States
BikeBoy wrote:
In a perfect world:

Judge: "After hearing the unique argument by the defense I feel obliged to offer an equally unique sentencing option. To the parents, you are responsible for your child's life, both the actions and outcome, until the age of 18. I will give you 15 minutes to decide whether it will be the both of you or he alone who spends the next 20 years behind bars. And bailiff, please escort the defense lawyers out of the courtroom immediately to allow the parents to make their decision unencumbered. I'll start the clock now and await your answer."



In a perfect world this would never have happened in the first place.





When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser. Socrates
BikeBoy
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 1:03:02 PM

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Location: Ski town, BC, Canada, Canada
lafayettemister wrote:


In a perfect world this would never have happened in the first place.


Yes, 100% true.
lafayettemister
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 1:16:42 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 10/4/2010
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Location: Alabama, United States
Curious thing though. I know what defense was used, the boy didn't know right from wrong because he's folks are rich. But that was just a defense, the kid probably DOES know right from wrong. Are parents really liable for the crimes of their kids? Even the best parents in the world that love and nurture and teach right from wrong, have kids that fuck up. If all parents were liable for every crime a 16yr old commits, why would any parent let their under 18 year old kid get a driver's license? If Ethan's defense of Affluenza failed, thus showing he DID know right from wrong... he's parents DID teach him but it still happened, would they NOT be sued?

In suing the parents, is it further teaching him that money fixes it all? It ain't his money, at least not yet.

Put yourself in a typical parent's shoes. You have a 16 yr old kid, never been in any real trouble. (not saying Ethan never was or there were no warning signs) You teach him the best you can, and you think he's learned your morals and knows right from wrong. He goes to prom, after prom he goes to a party and has a few beers. Inexperienced, young, and foolish; he tries to drive home. He's over the legal limit, crashes and kills someone. You couldn't have foreseen this happening, should you be sued and lose all your money? Your home? Everything you possess? Are you really culpable? What if you have other children, how will you raise them if you lose it all?

Sometimes a violent teen offender will be tried as an adult. In those cases, is the parents off the hook? Can't have it both ways, can you?

As for Ethan, let me reiterate.... He should have faced a far stiffer penalty. Probably should be in jail for all or most of the rest of his life. In no way is the above excusing him of anything.





When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser. Socrates
LadyX
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 1:57:35 PM

Rank: Artistic Tart

Joined: 9/25/2009
Posts: 4,827
lafayettemister wrote:


Put yourself in a typical parent's shoes. You have a 16 yr old kid, never been in any real trouble. (not saying Ethan never was or there were no warning signs) You teach him the best you can, and you think he's learned your morals and knows right from wrong. He goes to prom, after prom he goes to a party and has a few beers. Inexperienced, young, and foolish; he tries to drive home. He's over the legal limit, crashes and kills someone. You couldn't have foreseen this happening, should you be sued and lose all your money? Your home? Everything you possess? Are you really culpable? What if you have other children, how will you raise them if you lose it all?


If he was 18 or over, then the answer is: the parents are untouchable. But he's a minor, still a kid. In a wrongful death lawsuit, he has no assets, only his parents do. One could argue that his parents aren't culpable for their sons actions, but I don't think I agree with that argument. In other words, yes, I do think you can have it both ways. He knew better, he should pay a price. But legally, he's a minor, and it's his parents that pay a civil price, not him, much like if your kid knocks over a $3,000 vase in a store. No use suing an 8-year-old for damages, so you go after he or she who has custody of the child and seek payment from them.

Incidentally, I heard a blurb on the radio about the sentencing, and apparently the philosophy in Texas is to keep as many juveniles out of the detention system as possible, because the repeat offender rate once they've served time is nearly 100%. In other words, while the theory may be that juvenile detention (much like prison) is rehabilitative, the evidence shows that it's anything but. Faced with overcrowding and the prospect that over his lifetime he'll be more likely to abide the law if he avoids rather than serves hard time, they chose to monitor him closely instead.

I'm not saying I agree with it. In fact, I can't escape the bitter feeling of knowing he'll be holed up in a facility nicer than perhaps any hotel I've ever stayed in, while the families of his victims will never get their loved ones back. But for what it's worth, that shed some light on the sentence that was given, particularly in response to the implication that the parents paid the judge off. The "affluenza" made for inflammatory fodder, but according to what I heard, there's every possibility the sentence would have been the same without the defense going there.
Buz
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 2:20:42 PM

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Location: Atlanta, United States
This kind of shit really angers me. That boy needs to feel the true wrath of justice. He killed 4 people because of his irresponsibility. The fact that a highly paid attorney (probably much more talented than the prosecutor's side) can use the argument that he's a spoiled brat, who hasn't been taught right from wrong to get him off, makes me that much angrier. I'm becoming much more disillusioned every day.

kornslayer1
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 3:24:55 PM

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Holy mother fucking shit. Are you serious? That's their argument? Just how far did they reached up their asses to find that excuse? Wow, this actually does prove that the rich can get away with everything. I hope all those that lost people close to them certainly do something to this prick, because the system just failed miserably to give them justice. Saying this is a sad story, is a HUGE understatement. I don't know what I'd do if something like this happened to those closest to me.

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MadMartigan
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 4:26:52 PM

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Poor teen? Gets jail time.
Black teen? Gets double the jail time.
Poor black teen? Triple and gets called a monster by everyone.

Rich white kid kills 4? Slap on the wrist, lives a life of luxury at a "rehab" facility and slapped with some easy ass probation.

Our justice system is fucked.

If I remember correctly, one of their excuses was he was never taught right from wrong by his parents. cussing

Rembacher
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 5:01:31 PM

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I think this quote from the DA sums it up well: "There can be no doubt that he will be in another courthouse one day blaming the lenient treatment he received here."

I do agree that in most cases treatment makes more sense than incarceration. The numbers prove that. You incarcerate people, and all they do is sit around and talk to other incarcerated people. Learning how to be meaner, or how to avoid getting caught in the future. BUT, if you take someone's life, not to mention 4 people's lives, you have to do at least some jail time. Otherwise there is no real negative message being sent to you, or to anyone else who might drink and drive and kill people.
sprite
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 6:24:36 PM

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makes me wish i was 16 again. i'd move to Texas and shoot kids like Ethan and then claim that i suffer from "Envulenza": being so envious of the affluent and privliged rich kids that i don't understand that killing them is wrong.

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Yuzar
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 6:49:32 PM

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More Pussification of America... Oh and money overruling Justice. We have such a broken justice system, its rediculous. Four lives lost needlessly and this assclown walks away a free man more or less.

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Guest
Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 10:24:11 PM

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Posts: 537,935
I think this young man should of gotten more than 10 years probation. He was old enough to know what he was doing. Plus I feel the judge should of intervened with this and over rode the jury. This young man got away with murder I think.
Wilful
Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 1:56:00 AM

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Location: Digging a hole on the beach, Australia
It's just horrific.

I don't know how fair and reasonable it is to blame the parents. Sure, it's a nice, conservative, knee-jerk reaction to bankrupt them. But seriously, what 16 year old can be told anything these days? Sometimes it's a no-brainer, and in those cases, grind them into the ground. But other times, it's out of nowhere and nobody could see it coming. Mandatory parenting classes, social services intervention and a shit load of community service, absolutely. Prison time and/or a big wad of cash, I'm not convinced.

As for the self-indulgent little cunt that fucked up everyone's lives... You've really got to put the rage aside. Sure, the sentence is absolute bullshit, but what value is there in throwing him behind bars? It feeds our desire for punishment, but it doesn't do anyone any good. I think an epic community service order is a better approach. Make him pick up rubbish on the side of the highway for 12-16 hours a day, 7 days a week for the rest of his life...with his anus.

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flytoomuch
Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 2:12:25 AM

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As a fellow lawyer I need to laugh at this guys balls. His argument is that this kid has never had any consequences……so let's keep going…..let's not have any consequences for killing four people…..let's GO BIG!! I can't believe he thought his defense of "affluenza" would ever work and he must have been totally astounded when the judge accepted the stupid argument. He will have rich clients with fucked-up irresponsible kids lined up at his door. He will have a whole team of psychologists on retainer now to prove that "affluenza" is a recognized disease.

What a fucking joke. I feel sad for the families. No sentence can bring their loved ones back.
SydneySider
Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 3:04:48 AM

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Hang on, right from wrong? Doesn't everyone know that stealing is wrong? That drinking under the legal age is wrong? That, if he had a license, that driving under the influence is wrong? What a fucking cop out..and of course the defense lawyers are going to be paid to come up with any kind of reason to get the kid off, so they pleed ignorance. Sickening..

MoonlightSerenity
Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 5:25:53 AM

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flytoomuch wrote:
As a fellow lawyer I need to laugh at this guys balls. His argument is that this kid has never had any consequences……so let's keep going…..let's not have any consequences for killing four people…..let's GO BIG!! I can't believe he thought his defense of "affluenza" would ever work and he must have been totally astounded when the judge accepted the stupid argument. He will have rich clients with fucked-up irresponsible kids lined up at his door. He will have a whole team of psychologists on retainer now to prove that "affluenza" is a recognized disease.

What a fucking joke. I feel sad for the families. No sentence can bring their loved ones back.


I doubt anyone else will be able to try and come up with that excuse if they value their medical license. The American Psychiatric Association has said that they don't recognise the diagnosis at all and so if I'm correct it means that his defence is now void.

Link to where I heard it.

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Guest
Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 12:10:19 PM

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Posts: 537,935
Why are some people making this a race thing? This is about an irresponsible teen who made a horrible mistake and is getting off way too easily.

I thought the sentence was total bull and way too lenient. Really tragic what happened to those victims.
LadyX
Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 12:19:59 PM

Rank: Artistic Tart

Joined: 9/25/2009
Posts: 4,827
Magma_Boils_333 wrote:
Why are some people making this a race thing?


I'll agree that's not quite where it's at, but based on the facts, it looks very much like a money/class thing. Unfortunately, race divisions often parallel class divisions.
Dani
Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 12:32:21 PM

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LadyX wrote:


I'll agree that's not quite where it's at, but based on the facts, it looks very much like a money/class thing. Unfortunately, race divisions often parallel class divisions.


This!



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dpw
Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 4:00:12 PM

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flytoomuch wrote:
As a fellow lawyer I need to laugh at this guys balls. His argument is that this kid has never had any consequences……so let's keep going…..let's not have any consequences for killing four people…..let's GO BIG!! I can't believe he thought his defense of "affluenza" would ever work and he must have been totally astounded when the judge accepted the stupid argument. He will have rich clients with fucked-up irresponsible kids lined up at his door. He will have a whole team of psychologists on retainer now to prove that "affluenza" is a recognized disease.

What a fucking joke. I feel sad for the families. No sentence can bring their loved ones back.


Does the USA have no right of appeal by the prosecution if the sentence is too lenient?
Guest
Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 10:56:05 PM

Rank: Lurker

Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 537,935
Only if a "fact" of law was arguably overlooked by the lower court.



Money changes everything.

If your litigation team is able to keep certain facts from the court's decision making, and the judge is subjectively lenient towards a first time offender, with no priors other than this "unfortunate act," then yes, shit happens, it runs uphill and chokes decency and common sense.

Welcome to American jurisprudence.

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And I think I need a Lear jet
Money it's a crime." -- Pink Floyd

Muffinman82
Posted: Saturday, December 14, 2013 2:21:25 AM

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Joined: 12/11/2013
Posts: 57
thesexynun wrote:
how sickening

it is A CHOICE to drink and drive

a CHOICE to drink under age

now what CHOICE did his victims have I ask..you

none



Quoted for truth.
Yuzar
Posted: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 11:20:49 AM

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I suffer from povertitus.... Does that excuse me from taking responsibilities?

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