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Probation for teen in affluenza case

Contributing Reporter

Published: Monday, February 10, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 10, 2014 23:02

A Fort Worth judge sentenced a 16-year-old wealthy white male to 10 years of probation and a long-term stay at a residential treatment facility despite the prosecution’s request for jail time Wednesday.

In June, Ethan Couch, whose blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit, left a party at his parents’ second house and drove his truck off the side of the road, killing four and injuring two.

His story made headlines when G. Dick Miller, Ph.D., the defense psychologist, said that Couch suffered from ‘affluenza’, the result of having privileged parents who never set any limits for their child.

Eric Boyle, whose wife and daughter were killed, doesn’t agree with the judge’s decision.

“Had [Couch] not had money to have the defense there, to also have the experts testify, and also offer to pay for the treatment, I think the results would have been different," Boyle said Wednesday after the sentencing.

Hollie Boyles, 52, and her daughter Shelby Boyles, 21, were assisting a friend, 24 year-old Breanna Mitchell, whose car had broken down. Youth pastor Brian Jennings, 41, was also helping the women. These victims died when Couch struck the truck on the side of the road.

Two teenagers, Sergio Molina and Solimon Mohmand who were riding in the bed of the Couch’s truck were also injured in the accident. Molina suffered severe brain damage and can neither move nor speak. Mohmand suffered internal injuries as well as broken bones.

Miller told CNN’s Anderson Cooperthat he regrets using the term “affluenza.”

“I wish I hadn’t used that term,” Miller said. “Everyone seems to have hooked onto it. We used to call these people spoiled brats.”

Couch will not be able to drive or use drugs or alcohol during his probation. If he violates these terms, he can be sentenced to jail time.

Janice Oleson, a commenter on Dallas News,thinks the teen’s punishment is a slap on the wrist.

“Not only did his parents supposedly not teach him responsibility, but now the courts are doing the same thing,” Oleson said.

The treatment facility, which has not yet been chosen, was ordered by the judge to be paid for by Couch’s parents. It is unclear how long he will stay at the facility.

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