Attorneys for ‘Affluenza’ Killer Seek His Release

     FORT WORTH (CN) – Lawyers for jailed “affluenza” killer Ethan Couch moved to free him Tuesday, arguing the adult criminal court that sentenced him has no jurisdiction in his juvenile case.
     Tarrant County Judge Wayne Salvant sentenced Couch, 19, to nearly two years in county jail in April for violating the conditions of his juvenile parole. The sentence was based on 180 days for each of the four people he killed while driving drunk as a juvenile.
     Couch and his mother Tonya fled to Mexico four months earlier after a video was posted on Twitter showing Couch at a beer pong game.
     Salvant rejected a subsequent appeal in May.
     Couch stoked outrage in 2013 when former Tarrant County Judge Jean Boyd sentenced him to only 10 years probation and therapy after he drunkenly drove into a crowd of people helping a stranded vehicle on the side of a road in south Fort Worth.
     He killed mother and daughter Hollie and Shelby Boyles, youth pastor Brian Jennings and Breanna Mitchell, while seriously injuring several others.
     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 was facing up to 20 years in state prison.
     Couch’s attorneys contend in court papers filed Tuesday that since the case was originally in juvenile court, Savant has no subject-matter jurisdiction.
     “This court is a ‘criminal district court,’ not a ‘district court,’ and its jurisdiction is limited to criminal matters,” the 43-page plea to the jurisdiction states. “As with all juvenile matters, this matter is a civil action, not a criminal case.”
     Couch’s attorneys say that all of Savant’s orders, judgments and probation conditions “are void – a total nullity – and must be immediately rescinded.”
     They say the Texas Legislature has drawn a “clear distinction” between district and criminal district courts in the Texas Family Code.
     “The Texas legislature specifically failed to provide for or allow transfer to a ‘criminal district court’ having only civil jurisdiction in the determinate sentencing scenario at issue in this case,” the motion states.
     Couch is represented by Wm. Reagan Wynn with Kearney Wynn and Scott Brown, both of Fort Worth.
     Couch’s mother is facing one count of hindering apprehension and one count of money laundering.

%d bloggers like this: