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The Teen Who Was Deemed Too Wealthy For Prison Has Settled With His Victims' Families

Sixteen-year-old Ethan Couch avoided a 20-year jail sentence by pleading he suffered from "affluenza."

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Ethan Couch, the 16-year-old from Texas who avoided a potential 20-year jail sentence because he was said to have "affluenza," has settled with the families of the four people he killed while drunk driving.

The Couch family agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to the families of Breanna Mitchell, who was 24, and Hollie Boyles and her daughter Shelby, who were ages 52 and 21, respectively.

The family of youth pastor Brian Jennings, who was 41, has not reached a settlement with Couch's family, the Dallas Morning News reports.


The teen was driving three times the legal limit when he struck the four people, who were tending to Mitchell's blown tire. Couch's truck flipped, ejecting two boys who were riding in his truck bed.

One of the boys, Sergio Molina, was paralyzed and can only communicate by blinking his eyes. His family is also seeking damages in a lawsuit, claiming he requires around-the-clock care and is only "minimally conscious."

Couch's "affluenza" was described by defense psychologist Dr. G. Dick Miller as "a condition caused by the wealth of his parents giving him freedoms no young person would be able to handle," an argument that exploded the internet with rage.

Miller said Couch's family felt that wealth bought privilege and there was no rational link between behavior and consequences.

Couch's parents own a "high-end architectural sheet metal" company, the Daily News reports.

After pleading guilty to intoxication manslaughter in juvenile court, Couch was ultimately sentenced to 10 years’ probation and a treatment program.

Rachel Zarrell is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Rachel Zarrell at

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