Teen admits fault in Tarrant County crash that killed four

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on December 4, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 7:37 PM

CLEBURNE — Emotions ran high Wednesday morning in a Tarrant Count juvenile court, where a teen charged with four counts of intoxication manslaughter admitted his actions led to the deadly crash that left four dead and two seriously injured.

While he admitted fault, 16-year-old Ethan Couch didn't plead guilty. His attorney, Reagan Wynn, said Couch admits to the evidence.

The teen didn't stand trial before a jury. Instead, Judge Jean Boyd listened to an accident reconstruction expert, who explained what happened the night of the crash on June 15 in south Tarrant County.

Wynn pleaded that Couch be sentenced to in-patient treatment. The defense lawyer said the teen grew up with "profoundly dysfunctional parents who set no boundaries."

Couch's mother, father and other relatives sat in the first row. Behind them, victims' loved ones filled three rows.

Courtroom attendees and the judge were presented with diagrams and crime scene photos that illustrated where the victims were found after they were struck by the truck driven by Couch and carrying seven other teens. As photos were presented, several in attendance stepped out of the courtroom.

The night of the crash, Breanna Mitchell, who was headed home after a catering event at the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth, stepped out of her car after a flat tire left her stranded on Burleson Retta Road. Hollie Boyles, 52, and her daughter, 21-year-old Shelby Boyles, walked to the scene to check on Mitchell. Youth pastor Brian Jennings also stopped at the scene to assist.

All four were standing outside the car in a driveway when Couch struck them with his truck.

Tim Lovitt, a crash expert, said he was able to find evidence that Couch's truck accelerated as it was driven off the road. Lovitt said the truck was going 68 mph in a 40-mph zone and the driver didn't brake.

One of the teens who was a passenger in the truck at the time of the crash remains in the hospital with severe brain damage.

According to Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson, Couch's blood alcohol content was .24, three times the legal limit. Couch was also five years under the drinking age limit.

Wednesday afternoon, prosecutors read recorded testimonies from witnesses who would have taken the stand had there been a jury trial.

Defense attorneys were next scheduled to call witnesses to support their argument for probation.

 

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