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'Affluenza' teen may get jail time after all

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Texas prosecutor Joe Shannon is seeking jail time for 16 year-old Ethan Couch who was sentenced to 10 years probation after killing four people while driving recklessly under the influence of drugs and alcohol, according to New York Daily News, Dec. 19, 2013. Couch's defense attorney pled that he was suffering from "affluenza," a condition in which the subject is so spoiled that he/she does not how to tell right from wrong. Based on that defense, Couch's attorney was able to avoid jail time for his client and the Terrant County prosecutor is trying to amend that ruling with at least some jail time for Couch. The prosecutor is hoping to use two pending intoxication charges as the basis for the request for jail time.

Couch's victims included Hollie Boyles, 52, and her daughter, Shelby Boyles, 21, who were killed when Couch plowed into them as they were assisting a stranded motorist. Also killed were the stranded car's driver, Breanna Mitchell, 24, and youth pastor Brian Jennings, 41, who was accompanying Hollie and Shelby Boyles. In addition, two teens who were riding in the bed of Couch's truck were injured critically as well, one of whom is paralyzed and can communicate only by blinking.

Couch's blood alcohol limit was three times the legal limit. In addition, he also had traces of Valium in his blood. Despite this, Couch's attorneys maintained that his parents spoiled him and never taught him the difference between right and wrong, thus justifying the "affluenza" defense.

Prosecutors had asked for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, but Couch's attorneys reasserted Couch's naiveté regarding right and wrong. They even asked for Couch to be placed in a rehabilitation center in California with intensive therapy, promising that Couch's parents would pay the entire bill.

If Couch violates his probation, he could be sent to prison for 10 years. If he is convicted of the intoxication charge under Texas juvenile law, the maximum sentence will be three years and he will be released from prison at age 19.



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