Authorities fear ‘affluenza’ teen may have fled the country, but vow: ‘We’re …

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Affluenza’ teen Ethan Couch who was ‘too rich’ for jail sentence goes missing.

A teenager who sparked outrage after getting probation for a drink drive crash that killed four people because he was suffering from ‘affluenza’ is being hunted by police. Two years into a ten year probation sentence for killing four people in Texas while driving drunk, Ethan Couch’s probation officer admitted he cannot reach the 18-year-old or his mother, whom he is supposed to be living with. The teenager’s lawyers claimed his rich parents spoiled him and never taught him about consequences – famously calling the supposed condition ‘affluenza’. Marshals have joined the hunt for the missing “affluenza” teen — but a Texas sheriff fears the brat and his wealthy mom may have fled the country.

During Ethan Couch’s trial, his defence attorneys argued that he suffered from affluenza because of his family’s wealth and was unable to comprehend the consequences of his actions due to his dysfunctional relationship with his parents. Eric Boyles, whose wife and daughter were killed in the accident on June 15 2013, said at the time of the sentence: “Money always seems to keep (Couch) out of trouble.” Couch’s blood alcohol levels were three times over the limit and he also had Valium in his system after he and a group of friends stole alcohol from a Walmart supermarket.

The FBI says arrangements are being made for the bureau to join the search as well Couch is wanted on suspicion of violating his probation by failing to check in with his assigned officer. Prosecutors said on Wednesday they’re trying to determine whether Couch, 18, was one of the people drinking at a party in a video posted on social media this month. According to Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson, it looks like Ethan, and whoever he is with, has gotten a long head start. “We all know the family has plenty of money and I think this was planned and they’re going to run far and try to hide”, said Anderson in an interview with Reuters. Defence psychologist Dr Gary Miller, blamed the teenager’s behaviour on his parents, saying they gave him whatever he wanted including “freedoms no young person should have”.

On Tuesday, lawyers for Couch confirmed that authorities had issued the juvenile equivalent of an arrest warrant. “With the wealth and the wherewithal that his family has, it’s going to be a tough assignment for us to find him,” the sheriff told The Dallas Morning News. The 18-year-old named by Tarrant County officials as Ethan Couch, and placed on the county’s most wanted list, missed his mandatory meeting with his probation officer, prompting a warrant for his apprehension to be issued on Dec. 11. He said the teenager was a product of “affluenza”, where his family felt their wealth bought privilege and there was no rational link between his actions and their consequences. The district attorney’s office said Couch faces up to 10 years in prison if he is found to have violated his probation, which includes prohibitions against drinking, driving or using drugs.

A psychologist who testified on the youth’s behalf at his trial claimed his condition of “affluenza” shielded him from responsibility for his actions but is not recognized as a diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association. When Couch was prosecuted in juvenile court, his lawyers invoked the affluenza defence that claimed his irresponsible lifestyle was due to wealthy parents who coddled him. We’re going to find you, wherever you are.” The Fort Worth-area teen was caught on video earlier this month allegedly playing a game of beer pong with friends — a violation of his probation. The county launched an investigation this month after a video was made public that appeared to show the teen among a group at party where beer pong was being played.

Anderson also objected to the light punishment and long anticipated that he might flee. “I predicted two years ago that something bad was going to happen like this,” Anderson said Thursday of Couch’s missing status. “I wasn’t surprised at all that he ran, particularly in light of the video that had surfaced … I had been expecting something like this for the last two years.” In the months after the crash, Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst asked the Senate committee on criminal justice to review how probation sentences are issued in adult and juvenile cases of intoxication manslaughter.

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