FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The parents of the teen, who drove drunk and caused a crash that killed four people and seriously injured two more last summer, will pay only a small percentage for his rehabilitation treatment.
“The family respects the decision of the facility and of the court and will honor the payment system put in place,” Lance Evans, the Couch Family’s new attorney, told us.
On February 19 Ethan Couch was admitted to a state-run treatment facility in Vernon, Texas as punishment for June’s deadly crash. The facility usually charges $715 a day, which would add up to more than $21,000 a month. However, at a court hearing today, Couch’s parents agreed to pay only $1,170 a month. CBS 11 Investigative reporter Mireya Villarreal found out taxpayer dollars will be used to cover the rest of his treatment bill through state and grant funds.
“I think that the court and the facility followed the same system that they do in every one of these cases and that’s the amount they determined to pay. And so the family will honor that,” Evans added.
But for the families of the victims, who were present for the hearing, today’s news came as a surprise; especially considering the defense presented by Couch’s attorneys during his trial. Couch’s attorneys argued the teen was not solely responsible for his actions the night of the deadly crash because he was from a privileged home, used to getting what he wanted and had not been taught right from wrong. The judge agreed with the defense, which has been termed affluenza, and sentenced Couch to probation instead of jail time.
“You know, accountability is… there is accountability that we see. But there’s also accountability that they have within themselves,” Kevin McConnell said.
The McConnells are suing the Couch family in civil court and have refused to settle. Their 13-year-old son was badly hurt in the crash last summer and also saw his godfather, Pastor Brian Jennings die that night.
An attorney for the Jennings’ family also shared his frustrations after today’s hearing.
“As a taxpayer, I probably feel exactly like you do. It seems like it ought to be a little bit different and should be addressed if there is the ability to pay,” Greg Coontz noted.
The CBS 11 I-Team also found out there’s a good chance Ethan Couch will be released within six to twelve months, depending on how his treatment goes.
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