'Affluenza' Teen Dodges Jail Again After Pleading Guilty To New Charges

By McCarton Ackerman 02/07/14

Judge Jean Boyd further angered the victims' families by again refusing to send Ethan Couch to prison.

Couch awaits his slap on the wrist. Photo via

Ethan Couch, the 16-year-old who escaped jail time after driving drunk and killing four people due to an "affluenza" diagnosis, has escaped jail once again. The Texas teenager pleaded guilty this week to two intoxication assault counts against him stemming from the crash last June, but Judge Jean Boyd again declined to give him jail time. He could have faced up to three years in juvenile hall on the charges.

Boyd ordered that Couch attend a lock-down treatment facility and that his parents pay the bill. His current 10-year probation still stands, which forbids Couch from driving or using drugs and alcohol. If he violates the terms of his probation, he could face 10 years behind bars. Couch has currently been residing in a luxury residential treatment facility in Newport Beach, CA, with his father footing the annual $450,000 tab.

The affluenza diagnosis given by doctors for Couch’s defense in the trial last November claimed that the teenager never had to serve any real time because his affluent upbringing caused him to be unable to distinguish right from wrong. “He never learned to say that you’re sorry if you hurt someone,” said Dr. Gary Miller. “If you hurt someone, you sent him money.” Miller also said the teen had an “intellectual age” of 18, but an “emotional age” of 12.

One of the two people still alive after the incident, 16-year-old Sergio Molas, is now completely paralyzed and requires 24-hour care. Molas is “minimally conscious” and can only communicate with his family by blinking. Doctors have told his parents that they should not expect any improvements beyond his current condition. They have since sued Couch’s family and his father’s business for $20 million in damages.

“That kid killed four people and crippled my little brother and doesn’t even have to serve one year?” asked Sergio’s older brother, Alex Lemus. “If he were poor like us, he would have gotten 10 years.”

Meanwhile, Judge Boyd continues to receive calls for her to step down from her position and is even the subject of a petition demanding that Texas Governor Rick Perry remove her from the bench,

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.