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Attorney General’s Office Looking Into Ethan Couch Case

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TARRANT COUNTY (CBS 11 NEWS) - The state’s top lawyer, Attorney General Greg Abbott, has joined the growing chorus of voices expressing outrage over the sentence handed down to 16-year-old Ethan Couch.

The wealthy teen received 10 years probation for killing four people while driving drunk.

“Any time anyone is harmed in an accident, of course, there is tremendous sympathy for the victims and their family members and sorrow for the tragedy that happened. But then, to see the result in something like this is just outrageous,” said Abbott.

The Attorney General said his office is looking into the case to see whether the decision can be appealed.

“The fact that someone who injured others and killed others and escaped with such a light penalty is not what you typically see in Texas,” he said. “We want to visit with various different parties to see if there is an angle for the attorney general’s office to play a role.”

The Tarrant County District Attorney’s office said neither Abbott nor his office has reached out to them, but that it is exploring its options in this case, as well.

A spokesperson for the DA told CBS 11 News, though, it doesn’t look promising. “We’re not aware of any avenue for appeal,” said Melody McDonald.

It would be surprising if any grounds to either overturn the sentence or prosecute Couch on any additional charges were found, according to former U.S. attorney Richard Roper.

Roper said, now that the judge has ruled, the state of Texas will likely have to live with her ruling. The widespread outrage, though, could change the outcome of future cases. McDonald said the DA’s office could be interested in talking to lawmakers.

“We look forward to working with the next legislature to tighten up the loopholes in the juvenile law.”

McDonald did not elaborate on which loopholes, but said there were several areas of the law they are looking at.

(©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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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