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Thursday
Dec192013

'Affluenza' DUI Case: Prosecutors Try Again to Put Teen Behind Bars

WFAA(TARRANT COUNTY, Texas) -- The Texas teenager who was spared a prison sentence after a psychologist called him a product of "affluenza" could still serve time in jail if prosecutors have their way.

The Tarrant County District Attorney's office has asked a juvenile judge to incarcerate Ethan Couch, 16, on two counts of intoxication assault for which there has been no verdict.

"The 16-year-old admitted his guilt in four cases of intoxication manslaughter and two cases of intoxication assault. There has been no verdict formally entered. Every case deserves a verdict," District Attorney Joe Shannon said in a statement.

Couch was sentenced last week to 10 years' probation after he caused a fatal accident that left four people dead and two others severely injured. Couch was driving 70 mph in a 40-mph zone when the accident occurred. Prosecutors had asked for the maximum sentence of 20 years in juvenile hall with parole available after two years.

Afterwards police found he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.24, three times the legal adult limit, and had valium in his system.

Psychologist G. Dick Miller argued during Couch's trial that the teen was a product of too much privilege and had never been reprimanded for his actions and therefore was not responsible for his actions, calling him a product of "affluenza."

In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper after the sentencing, Miller said he regrets that assessment.

ABC News has learned from county court records that both of Couch's parents had a number of previous charges from alleged misdemeanors, most of them traffic-related.

Couch's mother, Tonya, had five charges while his father, Fred, had 22 incidents, dating as far back as 1989. The charges against the couple were sometimes dismissed or paid with fines.

The parents face civil lawsuits from the families of the victims -- Brian Jennings, 43, Breanna Mitchell, 24, Shelby Boyles, 21, and her mother, Hollie Boyles, 52.

Authorities said Couch and friends were seen on surveillance video June 15 stealing two cases of beer from a store. While driving his Ford F-350, Couch slammed into Mitchell, whose car had broken down, and Jennings and the two Boyles, who had all come to Mitchell's aid.

Eric Boyles, the wife of Hollie Boyles and father to Shelby Boyles, told ABC News on Saturday that he never believed that Couch could receive just probation for his sentence.

"At some point there should be some level of accountability for their actions," Boyles said. "I'm not sure how our justice system has gotten to this."

Before the final sentencing, Boyles and other families of the victims were able to directly address Couch and the judge, but Couch never spoke to the families.

"Nowhere in this process did Ethan ever say to the families, to the court, 'I'm so sorry for what happened,'" said Boyles. "Nowhere did Ethan express any remorse or anything."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio