Release of “affluenza teen” who killed 4 people sparks outrage

Author: CBS News
Published: Updated:
Jalisco State Prosecutor’s Office / MGN/ Seluryar / CC BY-SA 2.0

The president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is calling the release of “affluenza teen” Ethan Couch a “grave injustice” after he killed four people while driving drunk at 16 years old, CBS DFW reports. Couch is scheduled to be released from Tarrant County Jail Monday morning after serving two years.

Colleen Sheehey-Church says MADD will be following his release closely amid outrage from the organization.

Couch was 16 years old when he killed four people in 2013 while driving drunk. During the trial, his legal team blamed “affluenza,” arguing his wealthy upbringing kept him from knowing right from wrong.

Couch originally skirted jail amid public outrage in 2014, when a judge instead ordered him to attend Newport Academy — later dubbed “Afluenza Anonymous” in a feature for Bloomberg Businessweek — an upscale California rehabilitation facility to be paid for by his parents.

Couch was given probation until he ran away to Mexico in 2015. A judge originally sentenced him to probation, but he ended up violating that. He has been in jail for the last two years as a result.

The national president of MADD says Monday will be a tough day with mixed emotions for his victims’ families.

“As an organization, we’ll be there to serve them if they need us. We’ll continue to watch him because we have a partnership with Tarrant County to make sure that he at least adheres to all his rules of probation when he does get out on Monday,” said Sheehey-Church.

One man also shared what he’s learned about Couch during frequent jail visits. Tim Williams’ best friend, Brian Jennings, was one of the four people killed by Couch in 2013.

Williams says the visits with Couch were a blend of mentoring and ministry.

“I’ve seen a lot of the negative characteristics that we’ve seen on TV mostly go away… mostly diminish. I’ve seen him clearly own the issues he’s caused. The loss he’s caused,” said Williams.

When Couch is released, he will have a 9 p.m. curfew and will have to wear a GPS and alcohol monitor. He will also have an ignition interlock device attached to his vehicle.

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