This is a re-emerging story that some of my UK audience may not be aware of, and involves an 18 year old Texan who goes by the name of Ethan Couch. A couple of years ago, while pissed out of his head, he took seven friends for a ride in his pickup. The three times the legal limit alcohol levels (not to mention the diazepam, and the marijuana) predictably slowed his reactions down badly, and he ploughed into the back of a broken down car at over 70 mph. The crash killed two of the four people working on the breakdown, critically injured two of Ethan’s friends, and left one of them paralysed.
Now you’d think, wouldn’t you, that a hefty jail sentence would be in order. The prosecutors thought so too, and pressed for a 20 year stretch. The judge, in his wisdom, thought differently, and handed down a ten year probation order on the condition this little bastard stayed free of drink and drugs for that period.
This may leave you scratching your head and going, ‘What?’ Here’s the reasoning, if you can use that word in this context. The judge decided that the poor wee mite suffers from ‘affluenza’, psychological problems linked to his wealthy upbringing. His parents were ‘profoundly dysfunctional millionaires’ who apparently encouraged his bad behaviour. They were under the impression that with all the dosh they had, they didn’t have to follow any rules, they could make their own up.
I think the judge was completely wrong. Instead of saying, ‘Listen, sunshine, you’re a spoiled brat who’s going to spend a lot of time in the slammer,’ he let Couch off with nothing more than a smacked wrist and a ‘Don’t do it again.’
Anyway, things didn’t go quite according to the judge’s plan, because a short time ago a video was posted on the internet of this poor little rich kid playing beer pong. On the strength of this, a judge with a lot more sense than the original official issued ‘a directive to apprehend’, which is posh talk for getting the cops to cuff him and throw him into county jail before resentencing his sorry arse to 20 years of breaking rocks. Not too surprisingly, Ethan has done a runner, possibly with his mother, hasn’t been seen for several days, and skipped a meeting with his probation officer.
The good news is that if they nick him again, he’ll no longer be a juvenile. Terry Grisham, of the Tarrant County sheriff’s office, said, with a certain degree of grim delight, ‘He’s going to see what the big-boy jail is like.’ About time too.
Incidentally, avoiding arrest by running away is known in the US as ‘felony fleeing,’ a pleasing name for having it away on your toes.