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Massive Uproar Over The Teenager Who Won Freedom In A Drunk Driving Case By Arguing He Was Too Wealthy For Prison

Psychologists argued he's suffering from "affluenza," a condition that makes you too rich to understand that your actions have consequences.

Posted on December 13, 2013, at 11:29 a.m. ET

Ethan Couch, a 16-year-old from Texas, was sentenced to 10 years' probation by a juvenile court on Tuesday.

ABC 8 WFAA

On June 15, Couch caused a drunk driving crash that left four people dead: youth pastor Brian Jennings, 41; mother and daughter Hollie, 52, and Shelby Boyles, 21; and 24-year-old Breanna Mitchell.

ABC 8 WFAA

Couch was driving seven passengers, four of which were thrown from the vehicle. Two were critically injured, including one who remains paralyzed and can only communicate by blinking his eyes.

ABC 8 WFAA

Couch's defense brought in psychologist Dick Miller, who argued that he suffered from "affluenza"...

[Psychologist Dr. G. Dick ] Miller said Couch's parents gave him "freedoms no young person should have." He called Couch a product of "affluenza," where his family felt that wealth bought privilege and there was no rational link between behavior and consequences.He said Couch got whatever he wanted. As an example, Miller said Couch's parents gave no punishment after police ticketed the then-15-year-old when he was found in a parked pickup with a passed-out and undressed 14-year-old girl.Miller also pointed out that Couch was allowed to drive at age 13. He said the teen was emotionally flat and needed years of therapy.

After it was reported that Couch would receive no jail time, social media exploded, filling with furious updates from users.

These are Ethan Couch's victims. His legal defense for killing them was that he's a spoiled brat. #Affluenza

Kenny Webster

@ProducerKen

These are Ethan Couch's victims. His legal defense for killing them was that he's a spoiled brat. #Affluenza

/ Via

Ethan Couch story is fucking ridiculous. He pleaded guilty to drink driving and manslaughter. Being rich isn't a disease! Fuck's sake.

Alex

@AlexTubaGeek

Ethan Couch story is fucking ridiculous. He pleaded guilty to drink driving and manslaughter. Being rich isn't a disease! Fuck's sake.

/ Via

Ethan Couch's defense is claiming that he can't go to jail because he is too rich and spoiled to know right from wrong..he killed 4 people

ﺯﻳﻨﺐ ✌

@Z_Hachem

Ethan Couch's defense is claiming that he can't go to jail because he is too rich and spoiled to know right from wrong..he killed 4 people

/ Via

#justice #Wealthy #Texas# teen gets probation for fatal #DWI after using #affluenza defense http://t.co/96Nimv7yxS

MichaelLoBurgio

@MikeLoBurgio

#justice #Wealthy #Texas# teen gets probation for fatal #DWI after using #affluenza defense http://t.co/96Nimv7yxS

/ Via

Ethan Couch killed more people than Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Sean Morrow

@snmrrw

Ethan Couch killed more people than Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

/ Via

Ethan Couch. I wish I was a 16 year old rich white kid so I could get drunk, crash, kill four people, and only get ten years probation.

Andres Cruz

@iamn0tillegal

Ethan Couch. I wish I was a 16 year old rich white kid so I could get drunk, crash, kill four people, and only get ten years probation.

/ Via

Ethan Couch getting off with the "affluenza" defense after killing 4 people is society saying "Ohhhh fuck it, let's just make it official.".

Nativity In The Face

@Notintheface1

Ethan Couch getting off with the "affluenza" defense after killing 4 people is society saying "Ohhhh fuck it, let's just make it official.".

/ Via

Nappy Roots

@KuntaKutiKing

#Affluenza

/ Via

There is a known and effective cure for #Affluenza. It's called jail.

Goldie Taylor

@goldietaylor

There is a known and effective cure for #Affluenza. It's called jail.

/ Via

Has anyone heard of #poorfluenza? Oh - my bad #Affluenza.

Don Ward

@donlward

Has anyone heard of #poorfluenza? Oh - my bad #Affluenza.

/ Via

we filthy #poors are immune to #Affluenza. so there's that

Wet Dentist

@wetdentist

we filthy #poors are immune to #Affluenza. so there's that

/ Via

Couch's defense attorneys suggested that he enter a rehabilitation clinic where he can receive treatment for his wealthy upbringing.

Claude Garcia

@bbeachbbum04

#ethancouch #Affluenza

/ Via

Update: The headline has been changed to make clearer that Couch pled guilty. h/t @sladehv)

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.