Back in September, Ethan Couch, a 16-year-old from Burleson, Texas; caused a grisly accident that killed four people and injured 10 others. He had a blood-alcohol content three times the legal limit. And yet, he got 10 years probation rather than the 20 years in prison that prosecutors were seeking, along with a berth in a posh treatment facility that costs $450,000--a bill that his family will pay. Why? Psychologist G. Dick Miller, who was hired as an expert by Couch's defense team, convinced a judge that Couch lived a life of privilege in which he was never instilled with a sense of right and wrong--something that merited treatment, not jail time.
Last night, Miller had a long chat with Anderson Cooper to explain his reasoning. Watch part 1 here, part 2 here and part 3 here. Miller actually said with a straight face that this sentence is justice, since Couch will be a ward of the state for 10 years and will get a one-way ticket to prison if he steps out of line. He argued that Miller had a better chance of turning things around if he didn't go to prison.
When Cooper pointed out that not everyone can afford that kind of treatment, Miller actually said that he wasn't interested in punishment, but serving his "best interests" by taking away things important to him. Cooper then reminded Miller that the same judge who sentenced Couch sent a less-privileged kid to juvenile hall for 10 years--and yet, still insisted with a straight face that there wasn't a separate system for the well-off.
After managing to get through that interview, Cooper brought on Jeffrey Toobin, who bluntly said Miller had no business peddling "junk science" on the stand. Watch him debate Mark Geragos here.
There's actually a chance for some measure of justice here. Couch, his father and his family's sheet metal business, Cleburne Metal Works, are facing a whopping five civil lawsuits for his role in this horror. The family business is named as a defendant because it owns the truck involved in the crash. One of the lawsuits was filed on behalf of Sergio Molina, a passenger in the truck who was thrown from the bed and is now paralyzed with severe brain damage. That lawsuit alone seeks $20 million in damages. No word on what the dollar amounts are in the other suits, but hopefully they're enough to drive this company out of existence.