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A Primer on Ethan Couch, Who Used White Privilege as a Defense in the Deaths of Four People

By Dustin Rowles | Social Media | December 29, 2015 |

By Dustin Rowles | Social Media | December 29, 2015 |

There are a lot of fucked-up defenses being employed in our legal system. Poor people like Steven Avery can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that cops planted evidence to implicate him in a murder and still get a life sentence, but if you’re rich, there’s lots of cool theories you can employ: There’s the Twinkie Defense, the gay panic defense, the MSG defense, the PMS defense, sexsomnia, and the old oral sex defense.

Even among those bizarre defenses, however, the defense that Ethan Couch employed in his trial in the deaths of four pedestrians who he ran over while drunk is beyond the pale. His defense? Affluenza.

No, that’s not a disease, or a kind of flu. His lawyer argued that the Forth Worth teenager was so rich that he couldn’t tell the difference between right and wrong owing to his family’s wealth.


You know what else? It worked. Despite killing four in a drunk driving accident (and leaving a passenger paralyzed), Ethan Couch was sentenced in 2013 to … probation, though prosecutors had asked for 20 years imprisonment. That probation included a rehab program and orders to stop drinking.

However, earlier this month a video was released on Twitter showing that Couch had violated his probation by drinking.

As a result, Couch and his mother fled the country to escape police, as Couch had faced upwards of 10 years in prison for the probation violation. Mexican officials, however, apprehended him and now, Mexico’s National Institute of Migration is working on returning the fugitive and his mother.

But then, what’s it matter? Couch’s wealth situation hasn’t changed, so he probalby still doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong, meaning as long as he has money, he’s got a permanent get-out-of-jail card.

Must be nice.

Personally, I’m impressed with the judge for being able to show so much restraint in sentencing. If I knew absolutely nothing about him, I’d give him 20 years in prison for looking like a spoiled douchebag.

via NYTimes

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.