16-year-old faces intoxication manslaughter charges for wreck - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

16-year-old faces intoxication manslaughter charges for Burleson wreck

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A 16-year-old was charged with four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault for a deadly wreck that killed four people in Burleson in June.

Ethan Couch, 16, appeared in court on Wednesday for a detention hearing before being released to his parents. Couch will have to wear an ankle monitor.

Prosecutors said they plan to seek up to 20 years in prison for Couch if he's convicted. No trial date has been set.

Four people were killed in the June 15 crash after Couch's pick-up with a group of teens inside slammed into the vehicle of a stranded driver and a group of people who were trying to help her. Two others were also injured.

Investigators said in a July report speeding and alcohol was to blame in the deadly wreck. The blood alcohol level of the driver of the pickup truck in question, Couch, was .24 – three times the legal limit.

Authorities believe speed was a factor in the cash, as well. They estimate the truck was traveling around 68-70 miles per hour at the time of the crash.

The teens stole two cases of beer from the Walmart in Burleson and investigators believe some of them had been drinking before the theft. Some of the teens can be seen on security camera video stealing the beer.

The sheriff says the house where the teens were drinking was owned by a member of Couch's family.

Prosecutors have decided to wield a heavy hand and pursue a determinate sentence for couch.
 
"It gives you more flexibility with sentencing," said Attorney Harmony Schuerman who is not connected with this case. He said a determinate sentence is a legal way to make sure Couch won't get out of juvenile prison in three years when he turns 19.
 
"With an indeterminate sentence there's only a short amount of time once they reach adulthood they have to be released. With a determinate sentence they can be given a longer sentence, dependent on the offense," said Schuerman.

Schuerman said on several occasions, the decision to pursue a longer sentence for juveniles lies squarely on the level of emotion and outcry a case has.

"Theoretically, it shouldn't play a part in it but I think that is one of the things that does play a part in it," he said.

The attorney for Ethan Couch did not return calls to FOX4. Also, the attorney for one of the injured teens declined to comment.

The family of one of those killed in the crash told FOX4 they were instructed not to discuss the case with reporters.

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