Charges filed against Tarrant teen accused in deadly DWI wreck

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by TODD UNGER and MONIKA DIAZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @toddWFAA8

WFAA

Posted on September 11, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 12 at 4:02 AM

FORT WORTH –– The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office is moving ahead with four counts of intoxication manslaughter against a teenage boy who they say killed four people while driving drunk.

Ethan Couch, 16, was in juvenile court on Wednesday afternoon.  A judge ruled he can stay with his parents under ankle bracelet monitoring pending the start of a trial.

Investigators say Couch was driving a pickup truck between 68 and 70 miles an hour in a 40 mph zone when he struck a sport utility vehicle that was parked on the side of the road with a flat tire.

The June 15 accident killed youth pastor Brian Jennings; mother and daughter Hollie and Shelby Boyles; and 24-year-old Breanna Mitchell, who the three had stopped to help.

The four who died were standing outside the vehicle.

Nine others were hurt.

Couch’s blood alcohol content was 0.24, said Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson. That's three times the legal limit, although it's illegal for anyone under 21 to drive with any amount of alcohol in their system. 

Scott Sharman, head pastor of Alsbury Baptist Church where Jennings worked, said he was also notified that charges would be filed. 

“I knew charges would be coming, but we’re not going to say anything else for now,” the pastor said. 

The Boyles family also reported being told of forthcoming charges.

Prosecutors said they will soon ask a grand jury to approve a determinate sentence of up to 20 years if Couch is convicted.

Even if that happens, it is possible Couch could be paroled from the system when he turns 19. A variety of factors would influence that decision, according to Tarrant County District Attorney's office spokeswoman Melody McDonald. 

Couch already had a pair of alcohol citations related to an incident on February 19 in the town of Lakeside, in northwest Tarrant County. At that time, officers found him in possession of a 12-ounce can of beer and a 1.75 liter bottle of vodka.

He pleaded no contest to both counts and was required to take an alcohol awareness class and participate in 12 hours of community services, according to court records. 

News 8 called Couch's attorney for comment, but we did not recieve a response.

E-mail tunger@wfaa.com and mdiaz@wfaa.com

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