NewsMar 21, 2018 by Alyssa Duvall
After serving two years in prison for violating his probation sentence for killing a beloved pastor and three others in a drunken crash in 2013, "affluenza"-affected Ethan Couch will be released from the Tarrant County Jail in Texas on April 2.
On June 15, 2013, when he was just 16 years old, Couch was driving a pickup truck between 68 and 70 miles-per-hour in a 40 mph area when he caused the crash that killed youth pastor Brian Jennings, mother and daughter Hollie and Shelby Boyles, and 24-year-old Breanna Mitchell. Nine others were also injured in the crash.
The four victims were standing at the side of the road outside their vehicles when they were hit by Couch. Jennings had stopped to help a stranded driver shortly after celebrating his son's high school graduation on the eve of Father's Day.
Couch, now 20 years old, had a blood alcohol content of 0.24 at the time of the crash, three times the legal limit of .08 for an adult. Juvenile court Judge Jean Boyd, who could have given Couch a maximum of 20 years in prison, sentenced the teen to 10 years of probation.
Boyd's decision was shaped by a controversial "affluenza" argument from Couch's defense attorneys who essentially made the case that he should not be held responsible for the deaths of the four people because he was a victim of his parents' wealth. Affluenza is defined as "a psychological malaise supposedly affecting wealthy young people, symptoms of which include a lack of motivation, feelings of guilt, and a sense of isolation."
Couch was found in violation of his probation shortly thereafter and arrested in December of 2015.
Rev. Tim Williams, a chaplain for Tarrant County's family court system who was a friend of the late Pastor Jennings, told the DailyMailTV that several meetings with Couch have led him to believe he is now a changed man who has finally realized the consequences of his actions:
"He told me 'I don't want to scam the system anymore. I don't want to figure out how I can get around my probation. I just want to do what I need to do.' I was astonished. I didn't anticipate that. I believe he is genuine in what he says."
Though Williams lends no credence to affluenza and considers it a "joke," he believes Couch is now "on a good journey. But he will carry this weight that continues to burden him."
"He has expressed some desire to assist others. My impression is he has no wish to go and do the big stuff but rather just to say 'Hey, kids, don't do what I did. Don't think like I thought. Don't believe you're going to get away with it.'"
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