A Tarrant County district judge’s decision to sentence a 16-year-old who admitted blame in a drunk-driving crash that killed four and severely injured two others in June to probation has sparked outrage among some family members of the victims.
Ethan Couch faced a possible sentence of 20 years in prison on four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault in juvenile court. 323rd District Court Judge Jean Boyd instead sentenced him to 10 years probation.
Eric Broyles, whose wife Hollie and daughter Shelby were among the four killed in the wreck, told a local newspaper he believes money played a role in the sentence.
“Money always seems to keep [Couch] out of trouble. Ultimately today, I felt money did prevail,” Broyles said.
Marla Mitchell, whose daughter Breanna was also killed, told a local TV station she was mad at what she felt was too light of a sentence. She also said that Couch might think he has gotten away with something, but he will “be feeling the hand of God, definitely.”
The family of Burleson youth minister Brian Jennings, contacted through their representative Charlie Hodges on Wednesday, declined to comment. Jennings’ wife Shauna is reported to have told Couch in the courtroom that “we forgive you.” But Jennings’ family members have also said previously the teen should be punished for his actions.
Alex Lumas’ brother was paralyzed in the accident. He told reporters Tuesday that the sentence was “not right.”
Couch and a group of friends were drinking at his parents’ home on Burleson-Retta Road on June 15. They were caught on videotape earlier in the evening stealing beer from a Burleson Walmart and left the house again shortly before midnight to go to a store to purchase feminine hygiene products for one of the girls at the house.