FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – A judge on Wednesday ordered a Texas teenager who was sentenced to 10 years’ probation in a drunken-driving crash that killed four people to go to a rehabilitation facility paid for by his parents.
Judge Jean Boyd again decided to give no jail time Ethan Counch, defense attorney Reagan Wynn told reporters after the hearing, which was closed to the public. Prosecutors had asked Boyd to sentence him to 20 years in state custody on charges related to two people who were severely injured.
The sentence stirred fierce debate, as has a defense expert who says Couch’s wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility. The expert termed the condition “affluenza.”
Wynn said Boyd would not identify the facility where Couch will go or where it is situated. However, the teen’s family previously had offered to pay for Couch to go to a $450,000-a-year rehabilitation center near Newport Beach, Calif.
Couch’s blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit and there were traces of Valium in his system when he lost control of his pickup truck and plowed into a group of people helping a woman whose car had stalled.
Seven passengers were riding in Couch’s truck. One, Sergio Molina, is paralyzed and can communicate only by blinking. The other, Solimon Mohmand, suffered numerous broken bones and internal injuries.
If Couch violates the terms of his probation, he could be sent to prison for 10 years.