East Texas drunk driving victim appalled by teen's DWI sentence

East Texas drunk driving victim appalled by teen's DWI sentence

(KYTX) - 16-year-old drunk driver Ethan Couch, from the Dallas area, may not avoid jail after all. 

Couch was driving drunk in July, three times over the legal limit. He crashed, killing four strangers, and leaving two friends injured. One is paralyzed.

Couch recently pleaded guilty to manslaughter and drunk driving. However, he only received 10 years probation and rehab after his lawyer claimed couch suffered from "affluenza," when well off kids are not taught right from wrong by wealthy parents.

Now, the Tarrant County DA claims a verdict was never reached for the intoxication assaults for his injured friends, and is pressing a jail sentence. 

Couch's rehab sentence has angered people all over the country including people here in East Texas.  Local Mothers Against Drunk Driving are appalled.

Longview mom Amie Jo Robinson, who has had her own tragic experience with a drunk driver, takes this lax sentence personally.

Her nightmare was 13 years ago, but Robinson still remembers every detail so clearly. She was taking her 2 and a half year old daughter ShiAnn to a play date, she says when a drunk driver seemed to appear out of nowhere.

"He came out of a side road, hit me, flipped my car 7 times," she says.

Robinson was hospitalized, but ShiAnn's injuries were far more serious.

"Three and a half weeks later I had to take her off of life support," Robinson says. "I held her. She lived for 14 minutes before she died."

The man who took ShiAnn's life had a drunk driving track record so he ran from police. When he was caught, he was sentenced to 90 years in prison.
Robinson says that's the only closure she has, and feels for any family who doesn't get that closure. 

So when Robinson heard Ethan Couch had not received a jail sentence, she immediately thought of ShiAnn.

"I thought, he's 16. My daughter would be 16 right now," Robinson says. "This is not tolerable. What message are you sending that a 16 year old? That it's okay to go out, drink and drive, kill four people, seriously injure two more, and you can go to rehab? No. You are a minor, yes, but you deserve to go to jail. 16 or not."

She hopes the Tarrant County District Attorney will succeed in landing Couch with a jail sentence to send the right message to anyone who decides to drive drunk, no matter what their age or social status.

"His selfishness took somebody's life."

Robinson says he also left multiple families with what she calls their own life sentence.

"Every holiday birthday, whatever it may be, we have to go to a grave to see our loved one," she says.

Sorting through memories of ShiAnn, Robinson prays for change.

Five of the victim's families injured or killed have filed lawsuits against Couch.

Couch will stay in jail until a rehab facility is chosen. His father has offered to pay $450,000 a year to admit his son to a facility in California.



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