Timeline of events: ‘affulenza’ teen

On June 15, 2013, Shelby and Hollie Boyle went outside of their house in Burleson, Texas to investigate a loud crash.

They walked outside to discover the crashed car of twenty-four year old Breanna Mitchell, and Mitchell’s body.

Earlier that same day, Ethan Couch and several of his friends piled into his truck. Two people were in the bed of the truck, and six people were in the cab. Couch was driving heavily intoxicated.

Couch was also driving quite recklessly, playing “chicken” with oncoming traffic and speeding. To avoid oncoming traffic and a sudden collision, Couch swerved off of the road.

Couch plowed into the Boyles, Mitchell, and passerby Pastor Brian Jennings, killing all of them.

His truck flipped, causing multiple injuries among his friends with him in the car, including the ejection and paralysis of friend Sergio Molina.

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Ethan Couch and the wreckage of his truck

After the wreck, Couch fled the scene, hiding in a nearby wreck in an attempt to avoid the police.


These efforts proved futile, however, as Couch was later arrested by police. He was charged with four counts of manslaughter, with the possibility of being committed to multiple years of incarceration.

After Ethan Couch was arrested, a prominent psychologist named Dr. G. Miller was hired by the Couch family’s defense team to examine Ethan. Miller testified that Ethan Couch was the product of “profoundly dysfunctional” parents, as he was given to much privilege and not enough discipline. Miller stated that this lifestyle caused Ethan to develop “affluenza,” meaning that he was too rich and spoiled to understand the consequences of his actions, and that his “disease” stunted his transition from adolescence to adulthood.  

As absurd of a defense as it was, the jury took the bait. Instead of receiving jail time, Ethan Couch was sentenced to ten years probation and time spent in a rehabilitation facility.

Couch left rehab after several months to work with his dad. But Ethan’s law breaking days were not over. After missing a probation check-in, the police were getting ready to deal with him when a video surfaced of Couch at a party playing beer pong, a direct violation of his probation. The video spread rapidly, even appearing on several major news networks such as CNN and HLN.

Couch understood the trouble he was in, and fled the country to Mexico with his mother, Tonya. After U.S. Marshals and other law enforcement agencies searched for them for two weeks, the two were arrested by Mexican police in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Tonya was extradited to the United States, but Ethan was not. Ethan is currently fighting deportation, trying to seek asylum in the country. Tonya Couch was recently arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department and is being charged with a felony, with her bail being set at one million dollars.

By: Michael Eshnaur

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