The case of a Texas teen supposedly afflicted with "affluenza," who killed four people and critically injured two others while driving drunk, triggered new outrage a day after a judge refused to send him to jail.
In June, the 16-year-old had seven passengers in his Ford F-350. He was speeding and had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit when the accident happened on a rural road, according to testimony at the trial in December.
He struck and killed four pedestrians. Two 15-year-olds who were riding in the bed of his pickup were ejected and severely injured, according to a statement from prosecutors.
The case drew national outrage after an expert psychologist for his defense testified that the teen had "affluenza": He was so rich and spoiled that he couldn't connect his actions with their consequences.
After three days of testimony, the teen confessed. Texas District Judge Jean Boyd rejected prosecutors' request for a 20-year term for intoxication manslaughter and sentenced him to 10 years' probation, barring him from driving and consuming alcohol. She did not address the intoxication assault charges related to the passengers' severe injuries.
On Wednesday, prosecutors were back in Boyd's court seeking 20 years for intoxication assault. Boyd closed the Fort Worth hearing to the public and the news media, then refused to enter a separate verdict on the assault charges.
Instead, she ordered the teen sent to a locked rehabilitation facility for an indeterminate time at his parents' expense, according to a prosecutors' statement. The family previously offered to pay for a $450,000-a-year treatment center in California.
She has not publicly elaborated on her reasons for the boy's no-jail sentence.
The Los Angeles Times is not identifying the boy, whose name has been published elsewhere, because he is a minor.
But Eric Boyles, whose wife, Hollie, 52, and daughter, Shelby, 21, died in the incident, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the judge told the victims' families that her decision had not been influenced by the expert's "affluenza" testimony.
That said, Boyles was not pleased with the sentence.
"Had he not had money to have the defense there, to also have the experts testify, and also offer to pay for the treatment, I think the results would have been different," Boyles told reporters after Wednesday's sentencing, according to CNN.
Public reaction was also harsh on Twitter.
Let's be real- if the Affluenza kid was brown or black, he'd be in jail.— Bebe (@Lakerbebe) February 6, 2014
Affluenza? Four people dead? No jail time for anyone? Sick miscarriage of justice. Outrageous.— Emily Medley (@EmilyMedley2) February 6, 2014
Thank goodness the one great part of growing up poor was that I never got "affluenza"— Howard D. Cadmus (@howardcadmus) February 6, 2014
Cant blame the 'Affluenza' kid or even his parents.Lawyer/judge to blame. Hope he chooses to use his entire life making things right/better— Chica (@Chica63) February 6, 2014
"affluenza" might be a mental affliction but NOT punishing the kid and NOT treating him normally only seems to enforce his behavior...— Chelsea T. (@ctrimmy) February 6, 2014