There may be some small bit of justice for the victims of Ethan Couch – the so-called Affluenza teen who killed four and seriously injured two others in a drunk-driving crash in Fort Worth. At the time of the wreck, Couch has a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit – from drinking beer stolen from a Walmart. At his juvenile trial, Couch’s defense team claimed that the 16 year-old was not to blame for his reckless actions because his parents were – well, bad parents. Couch was apparently allowed to drive himself to school as early as age 13 and already had a nasty drinking habit by age 15. The defense was probably correct about Couch’s worthless parents, but the nation was outraged when Couch avoided any detention time. The outrage grew when Couch violated the conditions of his probation by drinking and then escaped to Mexico with mother Tonya to avoid further criminal sanctions.
Since being returned to Texas, Couch has remained in jail and today, a Texas judge finally held Couch accountable for his actions. Couch appeared in regular court for the first time since he turned 19 on Monday and it did not go well for the young man. State District Court Judge Wayne Salvant initially indicated that he would not immediately rule on how much longer Couch would spend in the Tarrant County jail. Judge Salvant abruptly changed his mind after hearing an argument from prosecutors that Couch should be sentenced not to 120 days in jail for the crash, but to 180 days for each of four counts of intoxication manslaughter under a separate part of Texas code.
But before we praise Salvant too much for finally holding Couch truly accountable for his heinous actions, it must be noted that Salvant indicated that he may reconsider his ruling after further briefing from legal counsel. Now if they would only put Tonya Couch away for a good long while . . .