Two years ago Ethan Couch was a 16-year-old with a serious drug and alcohol problem. He says he doesn’t remember plowing into a group of pedestrians who were trying to help someone on the side of the road, killing four of them.
He pleaded guilty to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault, but his lawyer argued that the teen suffered from an affliction unique to the wealthy, something called “affluenza.”
Now, 20/20 is airing some of the deposition tapes that outline exactly what life was like for Ethan inside a sprawling 4,000 ft. residence with nothing but a steady flow of alcohol and other drugs to keep him company. “I’ve taken Valium, Hydrocodone, marijuana, cocaine, Xanax and I think I tried ecstasy once,” he testified. When asked if there was usually alcohol at home, he replied “Yes, most of the time.” Ethan’s parents Tonya and Fred Couch say they were completely unaware that their son had a substance problem, and considered him to be pretty responsible.
His affluenza defense prevented Ethan from serving any time in prison for recklessly taking the lives of four people. Instead, he was sent to rehab, and put on 10 years probation. Six families sued his family and their company Cleburne Sheet Metal, and settled out of court. Ethan has completed his rehab requirement, and now works at the family business.