It was just under two months ago when eyes around the world were focused on Fort Worth and the underage drinking and driving case of a North Texas teenager. What sparked the attention was that the youth, convicted of four counts of intoxication manslaughter, was given a sentence of 10 years probation.
Four people were killed. Another 12 people suffered injuries when the pickup truck the 16-year-old boy was driving struck a group of people as they tried to help a woman with her stalled SUV. During the trial, the defense presented the argument that the youth suffered from what a psychologist termed “affluenza” — a feeling of that he was immune from consequences because of his family’s wealth.
This week, the case sparked new attention when the judge rejected prosecution requests to add on some time behind bars in connection with two counts of intoxication assault that were still pending against the youth. She did, however, order the 16-year-old boy to be placed in a lock-down addiction treatment facility for an indeterminate time.
At the hearing, the judge told the families of the victims that her decision to reject prison time in the case had nothing to do with the affluenza defense. Still, the judge’s action has clearly left a bitter taste in the mouths of the families.
The father and husband of two of the victims noted that the conditions of the youth’s probation don’t set any specific time for how long he will be in rehabilitation. He says the offender could be out and getting on with his life in just a few months.
The brother of a boy who was riding in the bed of the pickup truck that the 16-year-old was driving, and who suffered injuries in the crash, called the judge’s decisions an injustice.
To date, there are six suits filed against the youth, his parents and a family-owned company. They have been consolidated and are pending in state court.
Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “Fort Worth judge declines to add jail time for Couch,” Mitch Mitchell, Feb. 6, 2014