Ethan Couch was only 16 when he became one of the most hated children in the United States. Couch, AKA the Affluenza Kid, killed four people while driving drunk in 2013, then defended himself by saying he didn't know it was wrong due to his privileged upbringing. This defense caused outrage, but the story only got stranger after Couch was sentenced. When Couch went to prison, it wasn't for the murders he committed. Instead, he had violated his parole by fleeing with his mother to Mexico. While the Couchs have been made to pay millions of dollars to the victims' families, it was an uphill battle to receive reparation, as Couch's parents didn't believe they should be held responsible for the incident.
Couche's Drunk Driving Caused An Accident That Injured Nine People
On June 15, 2013, an intoxicated Ethan Couch went for a joyride with his friends on a rural road in Texas. Just down the way, a tire had blown out on Breanna Mitchell's car, running her off the road, and a nearby family had come out to help. These good samaritans were Hollie and Eric Boyles, their 21-year-old daughter Shelby, and a youth minister named Brian Jennings. When Jennings arrived, he told his two teenage passengers to keep their seatbelts on while he went out to investigate. Eric had just gone into the garage when everything came to a crashing halt.
Driving at speeds that exceeded 70 miles per hour, Couch and his group of friends swerved off the road and plowed into the broken-down car, as well as all the people around it. Mitchell, Hollie, Shelby, and Jennings were all killed by the impact, which reportedly sounded like an explosion. Couch escaped his flipped vehicle without serious harm, but his passengers and others at the scene were not so lucky. When the ambulances arrived, there were four dead, with body parts strewn across the street, and nine people were injured. A local sheriff said it looked like a plane had crashed.
Before The Accident, Couch Stole Two Cases Of Beer From A Walmart
On the night of June 15, 2013, 16-year-old Couch got the keys to his Father's F-350, and went out for a night of partying. He rounded up a group of seven friends, sitting some of them in the bed of the truck and others inside the cab, and drove them to a Walmart. Couch stole two cases of beer from the store, and began to drink, though tests show he had Valium and THC in his system as well.
When Couch and his friends decided to go joyriding, his blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit for an adult. The truck swerved and weaved, reaching speeds of 70 miles per hour on a small two-lane road in Burleson, TX.
Couch's Defense Argued His Wealth Caused Him To Confuse Right And Wrong
When the case arrived in court, Couch's defense came forward with an unusual explanation for his actions. They claimed his wealthy upbringing had left him detached from the world, and unable to determine right from wrong or realize the consequences of his actions. They called this condition "Affluenza," which is not a medically recognized ailment.
Couch's defense brought in an expert psychologist named Dr. G. Dick Miller. According to Miller, Couch's parents taught him that wealthy people deserved special treatment, as they are held to a lower moral standard. Couch's irresponsible lifestyle resulted from the way his parents raised him. Miller reportedly continued:
Instead of the golden rule, which was do unto others as you would have them do unto you, [Couch] was taught we have the gold, we make the rules at the Couch household.
Couch's Parents Made Some Questionable Parenting Choices
When Couch was 13, he drove himself to school, and the principal found out. His parents were called, at which point his father threatened to buy the school, and transferred Couch to a private homeschool program. At age 15, he left school entirely. When Couch's parents divorced in 2006, both were interviewed about the state of their household, and the nine pages of transcripts are incredibly damning.
Fred Couch claimed his ex-wife was a pill addict who had given their son Vicodin on several occasions. Tonya said that she had ended her marriage because Fred was physically and emotionally abusive. She also alleged he had engaged in multiple affairs, and used their immense wealth to silence concerned family members.