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Ethan Couch’s Affluenza Defense refers to a legal argument put forth by the attorneys of Ethan Couch, a North Texas teenager who fatally injured four pedestrians while driving a pickup truck under the influence of alcohol, which placed the blame for the defendant’s reckless actions on his wealthy upbringing and ultimately allowed him to escape a jail time sentence in January 2014.
On December 10th, 2013, Judge Jean Boyd sentenced 15-year-old Ethan Couch to 10 years probation for killing four people and injuring 11 others while driving his father’s Ford F-350 with a blood alcohol content of .24%, along with traces of the prescription tranquilizer Valium. Couch’s legal defense then hired psychologist G. Dick Miller, who testified that the boy was unable to understand the consequences of his behavior due to his wealthy upbringing, a condition which he referred to as “affluenza.” According to WFAA News, the defense cited an incident in which Couch’s parents failed to discipline him after he was ticketed by police who found him with an unconscious and undressed 14-year-old girl in a parked pickup truck.
Following the trial, Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter in Couch’s crash, criticized the verdict for being influenced by the Couch family’s wealth.
“Had he not had money to have the defense there, to also have the experts testify, and also offer to pay for the treatment, I think the results would have been different.”
On December 11th, CNN broadcast an interview with Boyles (shown below), which was subsequently submitted to the /r/videos subreddit where it received over 4,300 up votes and 1,500 comments in the first month.
On December 13th, 2013, The Daily Dot reported that 4chan users launched a raid against Couch following his probation sentence, sending pizzas to his house and calling his phone number repeatedly.
On December 16th, The Daily Mail reported that Couch’s parents had been accused of more than 20 crimes and traffic violations. Fred Couch (shown below, left) had been cited for speeding, theft and assault, while Tonya Couch (shown below, right) had paid a $500 fine for driving another motorist off the road.
On December 20th, Business Insider reported that Judge Jean Boyd had sentenced a black teen to 10 years imprisonment after killing a man in March 2012. On February 5th, 2014, Judge Boyd delivered the terms for Couch’s 10-year probation and rejected the prosecutions request to give Couch jail time on two intoxication assault counts. According to NBC, Boyd ordered that Couch be sent “to a rehabilitation facility paid for by his parents, but didn’t require a minimum amount of time to be spent there.”
On February 6th, a 4chan thread was created for OpJustice, an operation which urged 4chan users to sign a Change.org petition to remove Judge Boyd from the bench, discredit psychologist G. Dick Miller and disseminate an image macro of Boyd across social media platforms (shown below, right). On February 7th, The Daily Dot published an article about the new operation, noting that the petition had received over 25,000 signatures.
Dallas News – Ethan Couch sentenced to unspecified amount of rehab
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