The families of three victims killed by Ethan Couch, the Texas teenager who used the so-called “affluenza” defense after killing four adults while driving intoxicated last summer, reached settlements in multiple civil lawsuits Tuesday.
Couch’s family will pay an undisclosed amount to the families of Breanna Mitchell and Hollie and Shelby Boyles, according to the Dallas Morning News.
In June 2013, Breanna Mitchell, 24, had pulled her car off the road near Burleson, Texas, after a flat tire left her stranded. Three people passing by – Hollie Boyles, 52, her 21-year-old daughter, Shelby Boyles, and Brian Jennings, a 43-year-old youth minister – stopped to help Mitchell with her tire when all four victims were struck and killed by Couch’s truck.
Couch, who was 16 at the time of the accident, was driving his father’s company pick-up truck 70 mph with a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit, according to the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department. The police also reported that there were traces of Valium in his body at the time.
Nine other individuals were also injured. Seven of the injured were all teenagers and passengers in Couch’s truck. Couch still faces assault charges after the families of three passengers filed lawsuits against Couch’s family and his father’s metal works business.
The accident and trial gained national prominence after Couch’s psychologist testified that the teen suffered from “affluenza,” a behavior that was shaped by his parents’ neglect, dysfunctional family dynamic and family fortune. Defense attorneys claimed Couch had no sense of responsibility and a lack of judgment due to “affluenza.”
Couch pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years of probation and two years in a rehabilitation facility.
The family of Burleson pastor Brian Jennings has not yet reached a settlement with the Couch family.