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Trial Begins For Drunk Driving Teen That Killed Four

By Joel Thomas CBS 11 News | CBSDFW.COM
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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
Joel is an Emmy Award winning journalist with more than 15 year...
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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – The trial started Wednesday morning at a juvenile court in Fort Worth for a teenager accused of driving drunk and killing four people. The 16-year-old suspect admitted responsibility for the deaths, in front of relatives of the victims and also his own relatives.

Several families in North Texas were affected by the Father’s Day weekend crash near Burleson. Brian Jennings was among those who died. The father of three was a youth pastor at Alsbury Baptist Church in Burleson. He had just left his son’s graduation party when he stopped to help a stranded driver.

However, according to Tarrant County deputies, that is when a pickup truck struck Jennings and others who were all standing near the disabled vehicle. Four people died. Two other people were severely hurt.

Marla Mitchell has some of her cremated daughter’s ashes in a locket she wears on a chain.  Her daughter, Brianna, was one of the four people killed by 16 year old drunk driver Ethan Couch.

“Probably the hardest thing was the denial of his part, refusing to accept that he did anything wrong,” Mitchell said. “Telling paramedics that he didn’t have to answer his questions?”

Testimony described Couch as beligerent and uncooperative following the deadly crash, at one point saying I’m outta here and starting to walk away from emergency crews.

Evidence showed Couch had valium in his system and a blood alcohol level three times the legal limits.

Coroner’s reports were read into the record describing the horrific injuries to the victims.

An expert testified Couch was still accelerating to over 70 miles an hour when he first smashed into the vehicle on the side of the road.

People openly sobbed in the court room as family members and friends of the victims tearfully described their losses.

Defense attorneys told the court Wednesday that they will argue the teen should receive probation and not spend time in juvenile jail. Reagan Wynn plans to prove that his client is the product of “profoundly dysfunctional parents” who set no boundaries and failed to supervise their son. Wynn said that a toxic environment led the teenager to abuse alcohol and other substances.

A judge will have to decide if the teen is guilty of intoxication manslaughter and if he should go to jail or receive probation.

“I don’t know, its kind of up to the judge and God on this,” said Brianna’s aunt Katie Mitchell.  “But nothing will bring any of them back.”

“We all make mistakes, don’t we?” Marla Mitchell said. “We’ve all given people in our personal lives second chances. I believe God can change the heart or mind of a man or woman.  But you’ve got to want it.”

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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