Published March 18, 2014
The family of the Texas teenager sentenced in February to 10 years' probation and rehabilitation in a drunken-driving crash that killed four settled lawsuits with some of the victims’ families, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Ethan Couch, 17, had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit for an adult and there were traces of Valium in his system when he lost control of his pickup truck and plowed into a group of people helping a woman whose car had stalled. He pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter in juvenile court.
Seven passengers were riding in Couch's truck. One, Sergio Molina, is paralyzed and can communicate only by blinking. The other, Solimon Mohmand, suffered numerous broken bones and internal injuries.
The paper reported that the Couch family agreed to pay an undisclosed sum of money to three victims. Molina's family is seeking damages in a lawsuit, the paper reported. He reportedly cannot move and is only "minimally conscious."
Marla Mitchell, the mother of one of the victims, told the The Star-Telegram shortly after the sentencing that no amount of money will allow Couch to escape his guilt.
"I don't believe the world will ever take their eyes off him," Mitchell said.
The sentence stirred fierce debate, as has the testimony of a defense expert who says Couch's wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility. The expert termed the condition "affluenza."