‘Affluenza’ Killer Wants to Sue Over Sentence

     FORT WORTH, Texas (CN) – In a bid to spring their client from jail, attorneys for “affluenza” killer Ethan Couch said Tuesday that Couch could sue a criminal court judge for sentencing him to nearly two years in county jail.
     Wm. Reagan Wynn, with Kearney Wynn of Fort Worth, told visiting Judge David L. Evans that the transfer of Couch’s juvenile probation to an adult criminal court was incorrect, that such transfers are civil cases.
     Wynn said state District Judge Wayne Salvant lacked the subject matter jurisdiction to sentence Couch and that “there’s an argument” his client has been illegally jailed for months. He also said Salvant should be removed from the case due to the resulting conflict of interest.
     A bearded Couch sat silently by his attorneys during the hearing, clad in a red county jail jumpsuit.
     Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Richard Alpert disagreed, saying there is “no disputing” that Couch’s case stopped being a civil matter when it was transferred to Salvant’s court. He said the defense’s argument of suing the judge “does not make any sense.”
     Salvant sentenced Couch, 19, in April for violating the conditions of his juvenile parole soon after the case was transferred from juvenile court. The sentence was based on 180 days for each of the four people Couch killed while driving drunk as a juvenile – mother and daughter Hollie and Shelby Boyles, youth pastor Brian Jennings and Breanna Mitchell.
     Couch’s attorneys asked for his release last month, arguing Salvant’s “criminal district court” is not a “district court,” that its jurisdiction is limited to criminal matters. Salvant asked Evans to rule on the request.
     Evans declined to rule on the request from the bench, saying he would rule in the near future.
     Several other people were seriously injured when the truck Couch was driving plowed into a crowd that was helping a stranded vehicle in south Fort Worth three years ago.
     Public outrage was swift when former state District Judge Jean Boyd sentenced him to only 10 years probation and therapy. A defense psychologist testified at trial that Couch was a product of “affluenza” – that his family felt their wealth bought privilege and that there was no rational link between behavior and consequences. Couch had faced up to 20 years in state prison.
     Couch got in trouble again last year when he and his mother Tonya, 48, fled to Mexico after a video was posted on Twitter that showed someone who resembles Couch at a beer pong game. Couch was banned from drinking alcohol under the terms of his probation at the time.
     The duo was arrested in Puerto Vallarta in December, and Couch’s mother was deported days after her arrest. Couch initially fought deportation to Texas but dropped his case in Mexican court and was deported on Jan. 29.

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