FORT WORTH, Texas — A 16-year-old sentenced last week to 10 years’ probation after acknowledging that he killed four people while driving drunk could still serve time if a last-ditch effort by prosecutors is successful.
Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon is asking a juvenile-court judge to put the driver, Ethan Couch, behind bars on two counts of intoxication assault that he says are pending before the court.
Two teens riding in the back of Couch’s pickup on the night of the fatal crash suffered critical injuries. One, Sergio Molina, is paralyzed and can communicate only by blinking, according to testimony in last week’s trial.
“During his recent trial, the 16-year-old admitted his guilt in four cases of intoxication manslaughter and two cases of intoxication assault,” Shannon said in an email. “The district attorney’s office is asking the court to incarcerate the teen on the two intoxication-assault cases.”
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It was not clear what might happen next. An email sent to state District Judge Jean Boyd via her court coordinator did not receive a response.
Under Texas law, the maximum allowable sentence in Couch’s intoxication-assault case would be three years in a Texas Juvenile Justice Department facility; he would be released no later than his 19th birthday.
The probationary sentence handed down by Boyd last week in the face of the teen’s “affluenza” defense quickly drew national outrage.