Defense attorneys have an interesting job. They are tasked with defending their clients vigorously, no matter the crime, no matter how obviously guilty they are. Some defense attorneys have made it a mission to defend the worst of the worst with the sole objective of making sure they don’t get the death penalty. Others make up crafty nonsense excuses for the defenses crimes. Sometimes these excuses work. Such a bewildering excuse worked for “affluenza teen” Ethan Couch, who has probably not learned his lesson.
Back in the summer 2013, when Couch was 16, he got profoundly drunk after he and his friends stole some beer from a Wal-Mart. Later that same night Couch struck and killed four people and injured two others in his dad’s pick-up truck. His attorneys came up with a genius defense for his juvenile court trial: He had affluenza, or he was so wealthy and had such a lack of parental structure that he was incapable of knowing right from wrong. This defense—the first time affluenza had been used in a high-profile case—might actually make sense when tinkered and flipped to apply to kids in poverty, but the world doesn’t work that way. Prosecutors asked that Couch be sentenced for 20 years, but he ultimately got a slap on the wrist by Judge Jean Hudson Boyd: Ten years of probation.
Now 18, the affluenza teen is on the lam, squandering his second chance. Couch allegedly missed a check-in with his probation officer, which is, of course, a big no-no. Couch’s attorneys said they haven’t been able to reach him or his mother, who is also missing, for several days. Tarrant County’s probation department has asked police to arrest Couch if they spot him, and the search has now expanded to include the Texas Rangers, U.S. Marshals, and the FBI.
If Couch is captured, he’ll face some real consequences. Terry Grisham, spokesman for the Tarrant County sheriff’s office said that “he’s going to see what the big-boy jail is like.” But catching up with Couch might prove a little difficult for the time being, because authorities are speculating that Couch may have fled the country.
In a statement, Mothers Against Drunk Driving national president Colleen Sheehey-Church called his disappearance “egregious,” and that somebody should be held accountable for the four lives that were lost. “‘Affluenza’ aside, Ethan Couch appears to show blatant disregard for the law, and he must be held accountable,” she said. “The families impacted will never have their loved ones back; Ethan Couch must have consequences for his actions.”
Earlier this month, a Twitter user uploaded a video of some teenage boys playing beer pong, CC’d authorities and alleged that “ya boy ethan couch” was participating in the game, thus violating his probation. The user, @BlondeSpectre, née Hannah Hardee, says she wasn’t at the party in question, she just found the video in October and saved it, which was smart because the original source has deleted it. Hardee said that “seeing the interviews with the victims’ families” prompted her to post it over two months after discovering it. The video is currently being investigated by authorities.
— h (@BlondeSpectre) December 2, 2015
The Tarrant County district attorney’s office hasn’t commented on the video investigations or about the allegations that Couch has violated probation, but they did however, state that these violations could see Couch spending up to ten years in big-boy jail. They are requesting that the case be moved from juvenile court to adult court after Couch turns 19 in April. The ruling on the request is expected sometime next year.
Couch has also sucked in a family from Kentucky into his drama. Mack Maine, a C-list rapper from Lil Wayne’s entourage, recorded and released a song called “Ethan Couch,” which critiques America’s court systems with Couch as its primary example. The cover art for the song, however, doesn’t feature Ethan Couch, but just a random kid from Kentucky whose parents are now suing the rapper and his record label for “invasion of privacy, commercial appropriation, defamation, outrageous conduct, unjust enrichment and a violation of trademark law.”
But looking at the glass half full, that’s one thing that we can say with absolute certainty that Ethan Couch was not responsible for.