A 23-year-old Texas man who killed four people in a drunk driving accident was sentenced to life in prison Friday, proving that penalties are harsh for those not afflicted with “affluenza.”
Rashad Owens had a blood alcohol content level of .114 when he plowed into a crowd of people during the 2014 South by Southwest festival in Austin.
On the other hand, Ethan Couch had a blood content level of .24 when he killed four people in 2013, resulting in the 16-year-old teen to receive a ten years of probation.
The difference is that Couch suffered from affluenza as pointed out by a psychologist hired by his family to testify on his behalf.
That basically meant that because Couch came from an extremely wealthy family, he was not expected to know right from wrong.
The way the local media reports it, Owens got off easy because he could have received the death penalty.
Not suffering from affluenza, Owens knew that very night that he had screwed up, telling the arresting officer he was regretful and never meant to kill anybody.
One of the arguments his attorney tried to make that as a black man driving a stolen car being chased by police, he was in fear for his life.
According to the San Antonio Express-News:
Mitchell had taken Owens to a parking garage near the Austin Police Department’s headquarters to question Owens, according to the newspaper.
“You are not going to kill me, are you?” Owens asked Mitchell from the back of the police cruiser. Mitchell responded, “No!”
At another point, Owens said, “Sir, all I care about is me not killing nobody. I didn’t mean to hurt nobody. I was just scared. I didn’t mean to.”
Owens also displayed remorse during the trial, shedding tears and placing his head into his hands as relatives of the victims testified about their loved ones.
Couch, on the other hand, showed no signs of remorse during the hearing in 2013 in which a judge ensured he would not spend a day in jail for his actions.
It was already Couch’s second run-in with the law over his drinking, having been cited a year earlier for drinking in a car where a cop found him with a passed out 14-year-old girl.
Couch last month became an international fugitive when he violated the terms of his probation, traveling to Mexico with his mother, who paid more than $2,000 for his strip club bill before she was deported to Los Angeles on charges of hindering the apprehension of a felon.
Couch is currently sitting in a Mexico City jail to await his fate at the hands of Mexican officials who are much easier to bribe than American officials, so perhaps affluenza will benefit him down there as well.
While it can be argued that Couch was a juvenile and Owens is an adult, the same Texas judge who gave Couch probation sentenced another 16-year-old teen to 20 years in 2004 for killing two people while driving drunk.
Eric Bradlee Miller had a blood alcohol content of .11, less than half of Couch’s .24.
But Miller grew up poor, raised by a grandfather who was unable to hire a lawyer, much less a psychologist to argue on his behalf.
As a result, he is still serving his sentence.